Old age has finally caught up with leading eventing sire Jumbo, who was put to sleep last month at the grand old age of 31.
Born in 1984, the elite graded stallion was the sire of 45 advanced eventing horses, including three-time four-star winner Headley Britannia, and three-time Burghley winner Avebury.
Jumbo was bred by the late Archie Smith-Maxwell in Worcestershire, and was by the Irish Draught sire Skippy out of a jumping mare named Betty, by the thoroughbred Seven Bells. He was bought as a weanling from the Malvern sales by Carolyn Bates of the Grafham Stud, where he spent his life.
Jumbo was an eventer at advanced level with Andrew Nicholson, before going on to compete as a showjumper with William Funnell and in dressage with Lizzie Murray. In 1997 they won the combined training championship at Blenheim, after which Jumbo was retired to stud.
The black stallion first covered mares as a four-year-old and currently has 389 offspring registered with Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain [SHB(GB)] alone.
He is the leading ‘all time sire’ with British Eventing (BE) as well as the BE leading ‘all time sire’ of competition mares. He has about 50 offspring currently competing in affiliated competition, including Allercombe Ellie with Izzy Taylor the winner of the CCI3* at Tattersalls last year, and Mr Chunky a member of last year’s British Nations Cup team with Lucy Wiegersma.
He is also the highest ranked British-bred stallion in the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horse eventing sire rankings, in sixth place. He has nine graded sons standing in the UK, one in the USA, one in Australia and one in South Africa. His sons Jetset (1995), Med Night Mahout (1996) Free Spirit (2000) and Burfas Bugaboo (2009) are all graded with SHB(GB) as is Headley Britannia’s son Britannia’s Mail (by Jaguar Mail 2008) .
“I bought him just because I liked his movement and not because I wanted a stallion,” Bates said. “But he turned out to be my once in a lifetime horse and has been a huge part of my life. I am immensely proud and privileged to have owned him.”
Grafham Stud still has Jumbo’s frozen semen, and four of his sons also stand at the stud, in Devon.