YOU can’t teach an old dog new tricks they say.
But you can clearly teach an old horse new ones – 28-year-old Yorkshire star Mr Cracker in the form of his life heading for Olympia next week.
Mr Cracker is owned by Mary Rook, a former master of the Holderness Hunt, but the equine star remains on loan to UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom and his wife Katie and based at their yard in Wressle.
But it is the yard’s Kate Read who will be on board the white wonder next week in the Veterans Horse Society and Dodson & Horrell Championships final at the London International Horse Show.
At the grand old age of 27, Mr Cracker experienced his first Olympia last year when sealing a seventh-placed finish in London, again under the care of the Blooms.
But despite being another year nearer to 30, the veteran wonder is back for more with Katie Bloom having nothing but admiration for her on-loan wonder.
“This horse has just been tremendous and his owner Mary Rook has had him since he was four,” Bloom told the Yorkshire Post.
“As soon as she got him she said ‘I’m going to call him Cracker because he’s a real cracker’ and Mary was right as he has been. He’s never disappointed.
“He’s taught several people to ride, there’s people that he’s taught to go hunting and after having had him for the last four years he’s become my husband’s best friend I think really! They know each other inside out and they get on brilliantly.”
Assessing her charge’s prospects next week and just what Olympia means, Bloom added: “We don’t know what will happen this year but he’s very lucky to qualify two years on the trot because I think there’s only another one under saddle that’s managed to qualify for the second year on the run.
“They reckon there are over 7,000 horses start the competition in the Spring and there’s only 28 places at the final so it’s quite hard to get there and we’re very lucky really.
“He’s 28 now and it’s a worry because we are in uncharted territory. I know a girl that has got one that’s 32 – but she doesn’t ride him anymore.
“But we’re just delighted to be going to Olympia as the atmosphere is fantastic.
“We’ve been to the Horse Of The Year Show many, many years ago with a horse and it’s quite serious. Everybody has a bit of a long face. But the Olympia atmosphere is just brilliant and with it being so close to Christmas and having so many kids there, the feeling is tremendous.”
Mr Cracker’s date with destiny will come a week today with Bloom set to be joined solely by her star’s rider Read on the road down to London.
Despite being the horse’s “best friend”, there is no room for MEP Godfrey.
“I have to be careful how I word this, but sometimes Godfrey just gets in the way a little bit when it comes to horses,” laughed Bloom. “I’m going to leave him at home.”
But even without his weekly hunting companion Godfrey by his side, Mr Cracker will be out to dazzle in London as time shows no signs of catching up with the popular veteran.
Even this year’s Olympia tilt might not be the 28-year-old’s last, although the Bloom’s have six other horses in their yard, all of whom are champing at the bit for their turn in the limelight.
“We’ve got seven other horses and he’s the oldest,” said Bloom.
“We might not show him next year, we’re not really sure but with Olympia coming around just now I daren’t let my husband take him out in case he damages him! It just means poor old Godfrey misses a couple of weeks of hunting really.
“But we have got a couple of other horses creeping up the veteran ladder and we might give them a turn next year instead.
“We’ve got a horse called Milo and he might be the one – the added feature with him being that we would be doing him side-saddle.
“We did him side-saddle this year and he came second and won a couple of classes, but he didn’t manage to qualify.
“He’s 20 now so he’ll be 21 next year. He’s catching Cracker up – although I am beating them all!”