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Sergeant Jones and The Poacher lead GB to team eventing gold

21 Oct 1968

Sergeant Reuben Jones of the Royal Horse Artillery enjoyed his finest hour on 21 October 1968 in Mexico City, jumping a clear round on his mount, The Poacher , to win team eventing gold for Great Britain.

“Ben” Jones finished fifth in the individual eventing competition, but it was in the team event, together with Derek Allhusen and Richard Meade, that he really impressed. Lying fifth after the dressage, the British trio moved into the lead in the cross-country, though they still faced stiff competition from USA, Australia, France and West Germany in the battle for the gold medal.

The Olympic title would be decided in the show jumping round, and by the time Jones set out on The Poacher, a clear round was all that separated Great Britain from the gold. “He’s taking him rather slowly,” says the commentator, describing Jones’ measured performance. “It’s obvious his policy is to clear the fences rather than bother about the time.”

The pair continued to take the doubles and trebles in the stride as the clock ticked on. The 36-year-old Jones, enjoying what the commentator described as “probably the greatest moment of his life”, retained his composure right to the end, jumping clear to secure Great Britain’s first eventing gold since Melbourne 1956, when the equestrian competitions were held in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The silver went to USA, with West Germany taking the bronze.

Jones had become the first non-commissioned officer to compete for Great Britain in an Olympic equestrian event, four years earlier in Tokyo. He went on to win the European Championship team title in 1969, and continued to compete while pursuing his military career.

He died in January 1990 as a result of an accident while training a young horse. He was 57. A street was later named after him in his home town of Newport, Shropshire.

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