Olympic silver medal winning horse Kirby Park Irish Jester has died at the age of 24, after five years of retirement from the highest level of eventing.
Kirby Park Irish Jester was laid to rest on July 22 at the South Australia property of rider Megan Jones and her husband James, not far from where he was born.
“Festy” was one of the first foals to be bred at Kirby Park. The 15.3hh gelding was by the Irish sport horse stallion ESB Irish Enough and out of the thoroughbred mare Kirby Park Yellow Empress.
Jones said: “I got to travel the world with my little grey mate and I was lucky enough to win medals at the world’s biggest championships with him underneath me. With his silver tail shining like a shooting star behind us.”
Jester started his eventing career as a six year old quickly progressing to the 3* ranks by the time he was eight and a half.
Jester won the Melbourne International twice, in 2005 and 2008, the Adelaide International in 2005, and won team bronze medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the combination won team silver and only narrowly missed out on an individual medal. Jones and Jester were the highest placed Australian combination at the games, finishing third overall in the eventing competition and going on to jump for an individual medal, knocking down the last rail and finishing fourth.
Jester finished the 2008 eventing season as the world’s best eventing horse, being ranked No.1 on the FEI world rankings table.
Selected for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010, Jester developed travel sickness on the journey and could not compete. There were complications during his long recovery, and he was officially retired in 2012.
During his retirement he was stabled every night, equissaged twice a day, shod, washed, and groomed – everything a top class competition horse has, except the competition, though he did a few trail rides and lower level events with James.
Jester was always recognisable by a massive scar on his face from 15 stitches he received after running into a star picket (waratah) as a weanling.