Sir Lee Pearson says goodbye to multi gold medal ride, Gentleman
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Sir Lee Pearson’s Paralympic, European and World Championship partner Gentleman sadly passed away suddenly on Sunday 20 June. He was 20 years old.
German-born Gentleman (Gullit x Weltruhm) was Lee’s top ride for a number of years during which time they practically dominated Grade Ib para dressage competition both at home and FEI Championship level.
His remarkable list of achievements with Lee includes triple gold medals at three consecutive championships; the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, the 2009 European Championships in Kristiansand (NOR) followed by the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky (USA).
The partnership was a key part of the gold medal-winning British team at London 2012 where they also won gold in the Grade Ib Team Test, silver in the Individual and Freestyle bronze.
Gentleman was sourced in Germany, by Lee, as a six-year-old. “I went to Germany to look for a horse to run parallel to Blue Circle Boy. He [Gentleman] had such a supple, loose trot and a huge canter - he gave me the most fantastic feeling. After spending more than I expected to, I then brought him home.”
The superstar gelding, as majestic as he was, always enjoyed keeping Lee on his toes. “He was big, very sensitive and could also be very opinionated,” remembers Lee warmly. “But because I have to get into the horse’s head rather than using strength, he responded well to my style of riding.
He loved competing on the big stage and he never ever let me down.
“He had an awful sense of humour,” smiled Lee. “At a competition he would give the feeling that he could be naughty at any moment, when in fact he loved competing on the big stage and he never ever let me down.”
Gentleman spent the last five years of his life in happy retirement with Lorna Harvey in Northamptonshire. “Thank you Lorna Harvey for giving him the best of homes and loving him so much,” says Lee.
The legendary bay gelding goes down in the history books as one of the most successful horses in para dressage history and will be much missed by both his connections and the dressage community.
Photo © Roger Svalsrød