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‘He united our household’: heartbroken farewell to eventing and Hickstead pace Derby star

  • The rider of a horse who united a family in their love for him has paid tribute to the eventing and showjumping superstar who has died aged 21.

    Esib Power’s Doonaveragh O One had to be put down on Monday (31 October), at his home of 16 years, with those who loved him best. He had evented up to four-star (now five-star) level with Esib, and won countless national grands prix and at Dublin Horse Show, as well as winning the Hickstead speed Derby with Esib’s brother, Grand National-winning jockey Robert (Robbie).

    “There will always be special horses but there will never be one who unites the family as much as he did,” Esib told H&H. “Robert loved him as much as I did, and Mum and Dad too. He brought us all together, as he gave us those amazing days.”

    Esib bought Irish-bred gelding “Tommy” as a five-year-old from Ryan Crumley.

    “He’d been to Lanaken showjumping but I bought him as a potential superstar event horse, which to be fair, he was,” she said. “He came 10th in his first three-star [now four-star] as an eight-year-old, at Barbury, where he was incredible. But he picked up an injury, and that was really the start of his change in path.”

    Esib was based in England at the time, and she made a deal with Robert over Tommy’s rehab.

    “He was happy to do all the legwork and help him come back from the injury, as long as I let him ride him in the Hickstead eventers’ challenge, that was the deal!” she said.

    “He started jumping him in the summers when he wasn’t busy racing; he won the Hickstead speed Derby and some national grands prix in Ireland.

    “Then I went to Badminton and knocked the whole place down on the Sunday. I was in the depths of depression and decided I needed to work on the showjumping.”

    Robbie Power and Doonaveragh O One in the 2013 Hickstead speed Derby.

    Esib said there was a huge number of highlights to Tommy’s career, for many reasons.

    “Where he’s taken us, and what I’ve achieved that I never thought I’d do,” she said. “I never thought I’d do the Hickstead Derby but to jump it, and jump it well – but probably winning at Dublin [in 2019] was the one; I’d been there through my pony years and thought my days of jumping at Dublin were over. There were only two nationals who got to go so we earned our ticket, and I knew it was my one opportunity and we had to make our mark. To win was just incredible.”

    Esib and Tommy won countless national grands prix, including last year’s GAIN Equine Nutrition Alltech National Grand Prix at National Balmoral Championships.

    After the win, she told Showjumping Ireland: “Tommy has the secret we all as humans need to learn; he loves life. When you put the headcollar on him and get him ready for a show, he loves it. He absolutely loves his job. He was as happy today with that win as I was; he loved it.”

    “Every time he went on the box, you knew you had a chance,” Esib told H&H. “He always gave his best and never jumped a bad round.

    “He was a very strange but wonderful horse; there was probably only a handful of people who could put his bridle on, and if he didn’t know and trust you, you weren’t going near him. He was super-sensitive but once he trusted you, he gave you everything.

    “When Robert had his daughter Emma, from the day Tommy met her, he knew; he loved her and was so quiet around her. He was incredible with her and now she wants to know why he’s gone to heaven.”

    Esib said Tommy had been in fine form, and could have competed this summer.

    “There was no physical reason for him not to but I would never have forgiven myself if something had gone wrong,” she said. “It was a shock as he’d never been an ‘old horse’; he was perfect on Sunday night and then something must have gone wrong internally because on Monday morning, he couldn’t get up.

    “Thank god he was at home, and I was there and Robbie was there. It was horrible but he’s here for ever now.”

    She added: “You touched the lives of every member of my family, above and beyond. You were your own person but you had the kindest soul of any horse I’ve ever met. You were more than a horse, you were part of our family and it will never be the same again without you.

    “We will miss your beautiful face more than I thought imaginable. I hope I gave you the best life that you deserved and I am heartbroken without you.”

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