Grand National to Grand Prix

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By Jacky Green, follow @jacks_green on twitter.

Sir Mark Todd is one of the few riders to have competed at both Eventing and Showjumping at the highest level, but to be able to be a top National Hunt jockey and compete at Grand Prix showjumping at the same time is pretty well unheard of. To have the ability to adjust your eye from jumping fences at over 30mph in company to the precision required to jump 1m 50 fences, often over the same weekend, is pretty amazing.

Meet Robbie Power

Often referred to in Ireland by close friends as “Puppy Power” Robert comes from a family steeped in Equestrianism.  Mother Mags rode at Badminton while father Captain Con Power rode the legendary Rockbarton at International level and represented Ireland on many occasions before a freak accident left him in a coma just as he commenced a training career. He recovered, but never rode again. Robbies sister Esib has represented Ireland on senior teams and has several Badminton and Burghley’s under her belt.

Robbie grew up showjumping ponies and won a Young Rider Silver medal for Ireland before deciding that the showjumping world was not going to earn him enough money to stay at the top.  After a stint in the UK he returned to Ireland at the age of 20 and decided to go down the racing route.  He teamed up with Paddy Mullins and rode his first winner on his mother’s Younevertoldme at Punchestown.  The following season he and Jessica Harrington began their association which has resulted in so many successful winners, not least in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham Festival with Bostons Angel in 2011. Of course his most famous victory was aboard the catch ride Silver Birch in the 2007 Grand National.  At 33/1 they were hopeful rather than a certainty but an exemplary round of jumping and a great ride from Robbie ensured they took home the coveted prize.

Robbie on his way to winning the 2007 Grand National on Silver Birch (nearside)

Meet..  Doonaveeragh O One

Known to one and all as “Tommy” Doonaveeragh O One was bought out of show-jumping as a five year old for Robbie’s sister, Esib, to take Eventing, with the ultimate aim of London Olympics in mind.  Esib and the quirky gelding had a difficult start on the dressage side but the talented jumper always excelled in those phases and was unusual in that his cross country style was as flamboyant as his show-jumping. One of his most favourite things was jumping into water and he always did so with such an enormous leap that you wondered whether he would ever land it. He rapidly rose through the grades and finished in the top ten at Barbury CIC*** International in 2009 at just 8 years old and looked a proper star for the future. Sadly, just as his dressage was catching up with his jumping, he suffered a suspensory injury and despite not reappearing on the eventing circuit until 2011, it became apparent that his legs were really not designed to gallop long distances, and his enormous jump was not helping!  Esib gave him his first taste of the Eventers Grand Prix at Hickstead that year to finish in the top 10 and then while she returned to the UK the following Spring, it transpired that her brother had kept Tommy at home to showjump.

Robbie and Tommy

After some practice in Ireland, Robbie and Tommy finished 3rd in last years Eventers Grand Prix at Hickstead.  They have kicked on since then, winning a three day final 1m30 class at Ravendale and contesting their first Grand Prix before finishing 3rd in a big Grand Prix at Ballivora just a week ago. Still the funny, stranger-shy oddball that is Tommy, they have a unique relationship.  Tommy loves polos, but more unusually is also addicted to bananas, and he is distrustful of anyone he does not know – you can’t even put a bridle on him unless he knows you.  Consequentially Robbie is probably the only rider heading for the Speed Derby at Hickstead this week without a groom, as he looks after Tommy himself. As a pair they are both unique and both super talented and they could just be the talk of Hickstead. While they are both returning to their showjumping roots they also have talents that have been honed elsewhere.  Tommy has the jump and the cross country experience.  Robbie has the eye and the “need for speed” gene.  Watch this space and follow it with @keyflow!

Robbie and Tommy feature in the Speed Derby on Saturday 22nd June, 2013 at the Hickstead Derby meeting. Keyflow Feeds will be there too on stand number 212 where we will be showcasing the Whitaker Bros Jumpmix feeds as well as the rest of the Keyflow range. We’ll see you there!

Robbie & Silver Birch- victorious at the 2007 Grand National

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