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News from Vicki

7 November 2011

It is tragic times in the jumping world with the loss of two great figures, one human, one equine.  Bob Brook lost his life quite suddenly last Monday from a heart attack after officiating on the Sunday with his wife of 63 years, Joyce, at a Pony Club function at Castle Hill.  Bob was one of those rare people that you would never hear a bad word about.  The tall, quiet achieving Aussie bloke, Bob was an outstanding Course Designer and administrator in our sport, being a well respected National Selector and Chairman of Jumping NSW in past years.  He was also Chef d'Equip for our jumping team, most notably for our arguably most successful team that toured Europe in 1987, competing in what are now the Super League shows of Rome, Hickstead, Aachen and La Baule.  The team of Jeff McVean, Kevin Bacon, me and Armand and Susanne Bond-Leone won the Nations Cup in Rome, and was 3rd in La Baule against all the top jumping nations.  It was indeed a tour to remember.  It was my first trip to Europe, and my first in an Australian jumping team on the fabulous Apache, and it was great to have the calm, knowledgeable presence of Bob, as well as the effervescence and enthusiasm of Joyce, who pitched in to help with all tasks, menial or otherwise.  It was great to see the enormous turnout at his Funeral on Friday, and I felt priveledged to be able to recall some of the great memories with his family, children Geoff, Stephen and Colleen, and grandchildren, Sinclair, Alice, Rachael and Lizzie.

Bob and Joyce Brook.

Bob and Joyce Brook.

Totally shocking was the death of equine superstar and current Olympic Champion, the 15 year old stallion Hickstead.  He had just completed a lovely round in the World Cup class at Verona, just touching out the back pole of an oxer in the triple combination, when he collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack as he was walking out of the arena.  At the request of the other riders, and out of respect to Hickstead and his devoted rider Eric Lamaze, the class was cancelled, and the riders gathered in the arena to observe a minute's silence for the passing of such a great champion.  It is hard to fathom how such a thing could happen, especially having observed how beautifully Hickstead was  jumping, as he has done so for the last seven or so years that Eric has been riding him.  I, as does all the jumping community, feel totally gutted..


Hickstead, doing what he did best, flying!!

But life goes on, and also in Europe, Robynne McTaggert has made the exciting purchase of two new stallions for her Noblewood Stud operation in Perth.  One is another by Casall (same as Casino) out of a Landos mare, and the other is by Cassini 1 out of a Cento mare.  Fancy breeding indeed, and I am looking forward to seeing the videos, as well as the real things very soon.

We have had two weekends of Jump Club, with Hunter Valley being last weekend.  Sue Middleton designed lovely, flowing tracks for the day, and Benny won the 75 cm class on one of his young ones, Bill, or is it Buffolo?  Then Strawberry Belle and I won the 90 cm, then the heavens opened and we copped about 30 ml of rain in about half an hour.  Benny and I popped around in the puddles on Willy and Kurt, then called it a day...  Last Sunday was Sydney Jump Club, and Benny was again getting back together very well with Willy, Issie and Molly are working each other out in a good way.  Kurt overjumped everything in the 1.10, and Casino sailed around in the 1.20 then 1.30.  Kenny and I are at last coming to an arrangement (I hope!) with his brakes, and he was great at 1.30.  Well I hope it's okay with Equitana coming up this Friday... see you all there.

Strawberry Belle

Strawberry Belle at Hunter Valley.

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