A MEMBER of the European Parliament and his wife are hailing an equine ‘cracker’ who has just turned 30 years old.
And even now, their adored veteran hunter is showing no signs of stopping.
Yorkshire and Humber MEP Godfrey Bloom and his wife, Katie, are looking forward to another year with Mr Cracker, who is on a permanent loan from a good friend of the couple in Mary Rook.
The Blooms first acquired Mr Cracker in 2006 and, eight years on, the veteran is celebrating his 30th birthday.
Even today, the old stager still hunts at least once a week with either The Middleton or Brocklesby Hunt.
And it was only four years ago that Mr Cracker proved you can teach an old dog new tricks when he embarked on a second career as a show horse in Veteran Olympia qualifiers.
Ridden by Kate Read, who looks after him in the hunting season, Mr Cracker qualified for Olympia two years on the trot and came a highly respectable seventh and 14th.
Olympia is unlikely to be on the cards in 2014, but 64-year-old MEP Bloom and his wife are proud as punch of their 30-year-old, whose enthusiasm shows no signs of waning.
“He is in the pink and still enjoying his hunting,” said Mrs Bloom.
“He’s a wonder horse.
“We have been lucky to have him on a permanent loan from a very good friend of mine in Mrs Mary Rook, who bought him as a four-year-old from David Nicholson in Yorkshire and hunted him with The Holderness Hunt and The Middleton Hunt when she was a master there.
“Mr Cracker boldly led the field and even stepped in to carry the legendary Frank Houghton Brown.
“We were lucky enough to get him eight years ago after he had been loaned out to several other places teaching people to ride and hunt.
“We have had him since for my husband Godfrey to hunt and they get on like a house on fire.
“Mr Cracker still takes the odd small hunt jump with enthusiasm and in the summer he had a few weeks pre-hunt training at dressage – comfortably winning preliminary tests.
“I am sure there may be other old stagers out there but we are so proud of him and his joie de vivre for such a big horse at 30 we felt we couldn’t let his birthday go unmentioned!”
Assessing her star’s plans for 2014, and admitting Olympia is probably not on the agenda, Bloom reasoned: “He will just compete at local shows in the summer and at present he is out once a week trail hunting.
“But he is now really beginning to look like an old gentleman, so he’s probably not quite up to the male beauty parade that is Olympia!”
n Do you have any equestrian news? If so, email Lee Sobot at firstname.lastname@example.org