Bledington-based event rider Mike Jackson will make his debut at the most famous horse trials in the world, the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, next month (6-10 May), with a horse which is particularly special to him and his family.
Mike, 35, will ride Kangasong (known as Joey at home), a 14-year-old gelding owned and bred by his wife Ellie’s parents, Christopher and Rosalind Gaskell.
“Ellie competed Joey’s mother, Kangaru II, and he was foaled in their garden at home,” said Mike. “He was brought up as part of the family, and it’s incredibly exciting to be going to my first Badminton on a horse we have known for his whole life.”
The family have strong connections with the Cotswolds – Ellie’s father Christopher is principal of the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Mike has long been considered one of the country’s most talented riders and his first major success came back in 2009. He has won international events at Knaptoft, Gatcombe, Glanusk, Somerford Park and Osberton.
He rides a string of 10 competition horses from his rented yard in Cold Aston, Gloucestershire. Mike and “Joey” completed the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in both 2013 and 2014, jumping clear in the cross-country phase on both occasions.
“Joey is a brilliant jumper and I can’t wait to have a crack at Badminton with him,” said Mike. “It was my childhood ambition to ride at Badminton – it is the pinnacle of our sport, and very few riders are lucky enough to make it there.”
Mike and Ellie have two children – Noah, six, and Florence, four, and the whole family will be cheering on Mike and Joey at Badminton, along with supporters from the Heythrop Hunt, for whom Mike acts as a field master during the winter months.