Jack Pinkney Rides Into A Storm

British rider Jack Pinkney,aged 26, rode into a storm of criticism yesterday when his horse Raphael IV, attempted to jump a huge palisade wall that was part of a fence infrastructure during a cross country round at CCI5*-L Pau.

The pair had already had an issue at the eleventh fence, where they incurred a run out, but this appeared to be due to a tack malfunction when a rein broke. Pinkney then decided to continue  holding the loose end and it may be this that contributed to the incident later in the course. 

The course at the French event was, as usual, tough and almost a quarter of the 41 starters failed to complete. Pinkney and his horse were having ther first attempt at the level after three completions this year at 4* (Chatsworth, Bramham and Blenheim). 

The pair were making a pretty good show on the course despite the broken rein when they approached the last water jump at Fence 27, to reach which, the competitors had to go through a Wild West style arch. At this point, the horse appeared  to be steered straight at the decorative palisade on the right had side, which was at least ten feet high, and then tried to jump it, but of course could not make the height and crashed head first into the wooden structure.  However, on the video below, the slow motion replay (watch until the end)  shows the rider leaning left and reaching down,  so perhaps  the rein broke again or  he dropped it but whatever happened, his contact on the right rein sent Raphael IV directly at the huge wall. 

On the video, the horse can be seen getting up and cantering away apparently uninjured but the rider is seen throwing both whip and airjacket onto the ground in  what looks like anger before walking off to reclaim his now captured steed. 

This incident has raised a number of questions, particularly as safety is such a hot topic currently.  Should the rider have been stopped by the officials at Fence 11 when the rein broke?  Should he get a warning card for continuing? And, not least of all, why did he decide to continue, when it was such a high level event and a saddlery malfunction such as this could easily have ended in much worse tragedy? Is a completion worth a life or a serious injury? 

Raphael IV , a 15 year old gelding,   was originally ridden at Novice level by Scott Rimmel but was produced to international status by Ireland's Austin O'Connor.  The horse seems to be a very reliable cross country performer with only a handful of run outs marring his total record since 2013  with only one of those at international level. He won the CCI1* at Osberton in 2014 under O'Connor. 

On his Facebook page, Pinkney, in the last few minutes has written this statement; 
"Yesterday our xc in Pau didn’t go as planned at all but the most important is that Stan is all fine.
My rein snapped during the xc and we continued the course... My adrenaline was up and I wanted to finish it, to not let anyone down... Stan was amazing and everything was going well until this moment when I lost the rein completely.
I was so angry with myself and if I had to live this moment again I would pull up to preserve my boy of any risks.
I would like to apologize to everybody for the worry I gave but most of it, apologize to my partner, Stan because he didn’t deserve that. He is just the most amazing horse I ever know and I owe him everything.
He is today enjoying a lot of the French grass and we will go home tonight for him to have a well deserved time in his field at home..."