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news Third time lucky for Our Old Fella as he finds his niche Eventing

16th July 2021
  • Former racehorse and former polo pony making the grade in eventing
  • Olympic quarantine restrictions deny Piggy March shot at NTF RoR Eventing Championship title

At just 15 hands high, the 10-year-old thoroughbred, Our Old Fella, is not an imposing individual. He started life out as a racehorse but just one start at Wolverhampton Racecourse was enough to show that was not going to be his forte, he then tried his hand at polo before switching disciplines again to give eventing a go. And it is as an eventer, in the care of Team GB rider Piggy March, that Our Old Fella has found his niche.

Before heading into quarantine ahead of flying to Tokyo for the Olympics, Piggy March took Our Old Fella to Barbury International Horse Trials to compete in the NTF RoR Eventing Championship. Their performance there marked them out as a combination to follow, as Our Old Fella and Piggy jumped a double clear, incurring no time penalties to add to their dressage score of 21.30.

Piggy March explains the background to the success she is enjoying with the grey gelding, nicknamed ‘Polo’, who has been with her since the turn of the year.

“My owner Jayne McGiven rang me to say would I have him in for a few days trial. She said, ‘He’s a 15 hand thoroughbred that has raced and played polo and started light eventing. He’s 10 years old and small. Would I be interested in taking him on?’

“So, I thought she was crazy, but I said yes Jayne because she’s a good owner and she loves her thoroughbreds and supports racing as well.

“From the moment I saw him there was just something I really liked about him, he has a super character, he’s a really fun little horse, he just makes you smile when you have anything to do with him.

“So, he stayed and we’ve had a lot of fun novice eventing and this NTF RoR class was a lovely aim, a great class to have, something for these guys to aim for and for us to all enjoy the day.

“We will try an intermediate with him fairly soon, but we’re in no hurry, we’ll just let him tell us what he likes doing. He’s a real little rubber ball and when he’s calm and relaxes you can really ride him, he’s got loads of scope. I think he goes eventing faster than he went racing - he feels pretty fast to me!

“It’s amazing to think he’s done all that he’s done in his career already; to have raced and to have played polo. His soundness, his toughness, his mindset, his trainability, they are all the qualities you look for in a special horse.

“What a fabulous little horse to do so many different things, but that’s what I loved about his character from the off, he was a very intelligent horse, he wanted to be trained, he wanted to learn and to be honest in our job, that’s half the battle. And he’s a lot of fun.”

At the end of day one, Our Old Fella and Piggy were leading the class, having not added to their dressage score of 21.30. However, the quarantine restrictions for Team GB Olympic competitors meant the pair could not return to compete in the final round of show jumping.

Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive of RoR said: “On behalf of RoR we wish Piggy and all of Team GB the best of luck in Tokyo. It is great that the likes of her, Tom McEwen and Laura Collett have all worked with thoroughbreds in the past.

“Our Old Fella remains an exciting eventing prospect and yet another example of a former racehorse who has found a fulfilling new career thanks to the opportunities created by Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).”

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