JACK Lambert, the great horseman, has sadly passed away. During his 92 years, his son Tony said he lived not just nine lives, but 199 lives. He was a family man, who was proud of all his children and provided them with the best ponies and horses. He touched the hearts of so many on both sides of the Atlantic with his friendship, storytelling, wit, practical joking, his natural eye for a quality horse, and his horsemanship.

Jack was born with a rare caul, also known as a veil covering his head, which has a spiritual meaning as a sign of protection and special purpose. Together with his late wife Ann, whose uncle Barty Hickey won the Croker Cup twice at the Dublin Horse Show, they reared a large family on their farm in Grange, Killinick, Co Wexford, and the children learned from the master in the art of horsemanship going on to excel in many equestrian disciplines, and also at international level. Playing hurling for Saint Fintan’s, Jack was a tough competitor - he still holds the record of scoring five goals and six points in a single match - and was on the winning 1988 Killinick Hunt Chase Team that won at the Dublin Horse Show, along with John Stafford, Joe Moran and his daughter Ann.

Being a friend of Jack’s was like being part of a large equestrian family. He knew the men as ‘Curley’ and the ladies as ‘Josephine’. Jack was also best known for his Irish Draught stallions, particularly Grange Bouncer, a Grade A show jumper and international eventer, who had such an influence on Irish Draught and Traditional Irish horse breeding, with progeny all over the world.

Aintree Grand National-winning jockey Paul Carberry described Jack as, ‘A pure genius on a horse, the complete horseman that you seldom meet’. And Hennessey Gold Cup-winning jockey Tommy Treacy added, ‘He was a good friend, a proper old-fashioned horseman, who looks like he is doing nothing on a horse’s back, but he is doing plenty’. Former Killinick master and huntsman, John Stafford described Jack as one of the best banks race jockeys he ever competed against.

Jack’s family has continued the tradition of winning at the Dublin Horse Show, with Clare also producing a string of eventers that have gone to yards around the world, many eventing at international level. Jack’s granddaughter Corrina has evented internationally and is currently producing point-to-pointers. Ann took over the family stud, but has produced point-to-pointers and sport horses and also competes. Tony events and hunts from his home in the USA.


Some 30 years ago, Dr Bill Bowen, originally from Enniscorty, a Lecturer in Dentistry in Rochester, New York, invited Jack and a group of friends over to hunt with the Genesee Valley Hunt in Upstate New York and the tradition has been going ever since. Ann Morss, a charming lady with the patience of a saint, an Irish Draught breeder, who bought her first draught mare, Aisling of Grange, from Jack and has since bred the ID stallion Genesee Bouncer, played hostess to the Irish party, organising hunt horses and long-lasting friendships have been made in The Valley. I recall one night before the races with all the jockeys gathered around, Jack regaling them with the carry on years ago at point-to-points, and even accidentally pulling the bridle off a competitor’s horse!

I feel fortunate to have hunted with Jack in Ireland and with the Genesee Valley Hunt. Jack, with his sweet tooth, would have his favourite breakfast each morning, pancakes and maple syrup! He also constrained availability of Werther’s Sweets in the US and in Wexford, such was his liking for the brand. We travelled to the formidable timber race, The Maryland Hunt Cup. After walking the course, Jack sat on the solid timber sixth fence, over five feet high, whispered to me, ‘I’d love to have a go at this race, but I don’t think they would allow an 80-year-old jockey’! Jack’s annual hunting holiday in the USA also gave his family a chance to straighten all the tops of the farm gates that Jack had bent from schooling the young horses.


Jack’s stallions were expected to hunt twice a week, event, hunt chase and show jump, and consequently had super temperaments. I remember Jack taking his five Irish Draught stallions Grange Bouncer, Killinick Bouncer, Gold Dancer, Killinick Rebel and Killinick Trump to the Dromin-Athlacca Cross-Country Run, finishing the 15-mile course in fine style with Jack in the lead!

His stallion Grange Bouncer carried visitors of all ages, and one season carried five teenagers on their first day’s hunting and many well-known jockeys hunting with the Killinicks. He recalled taking Grange Bouncer hunting as a three-year-old, jumping nine narrow banks in succession, and calculated that he had him fully broken to hunting by the fifth bank, because Bouncer had mastered them so well. I asked Jack to describe the temperament of his great stallion Grange Bouncer. He replied, “If he stood on your toe, he would nearly apologise!” To show Jack as the joker, there is a picture of him in the local pub of him riding Grange Bouncer while, at the same time, the stallion is covering a mare!


Hunting with the Killinick Harriers was Jack’s passion, starting as a 10-year-old and hunting for 75 years until he was 85 years old. You could meet him hunting with the Island, Meath, Wexford, Bree, Carlow Farmers, County Clares and, for many years, visiting the Ward Union Staghounds, where he would supply horses to the visitors and they would stay in ‘The Cabin’, a large wooden house that Jack added to the farm. Its walls were a picture gallery of photos and articles of the family’s equestrian achievements and Jack’s hunting travels.

Jack’s friends of a similar vintage were James O’Connor, Walter Kent and Mick Berry. Jack and James whipped-in briefly, but they usually got carried away challenging each other over the biggest banks and forgot about the hounds, so they were quickly replaced! Jack recalled hunting with Michael Ryan of the Scarteen and coming to a wire fence. Michael asked Jack for his hunting jacket to put over the wire, but Jack had more respect for his jacket and asked Ryan for his whip and just rode on. He always took his own hunting line, he called a virgin line, and, if anybody tried to follow him, he would shout back ’wire’ to stop them. He got a great laugh telling me that at one bank in Murrinstown, 12 riders fell, and then added, ‘But not me’. Another day hunting a young horse, Jack jumped six fences along a canal bank. When asked what he was going to do with him, Jack said ‘I think I will bring him home and break him properly, he is a good one’.


Jack combined hunting with point-to-pointing. His best point-to-pointer, Marley Lace by Interlace, won the Killinick Banks Race on a number of occasions. Having won the first race, the mare was so fresh that he ran her again in the last race and won that also. He also won two divisions of the mares’ race at the Dungarvan Point-to-Point. Jack’s most recent race was in his 80th year when I recall him riding a well-known Percheron hunter Jumbo belonging to Ann Morss in a Heavy Horse Race at the Genesee Valley Point-to-Point in New York. He was cheered home by the crowd, and by Irish jockeys Darren Nagle and Mark Beecher based in the USA, who won the two main races on the card.

Show jumping

Jack even tried his hand at show jumping. He was puzzled by the jump-off course plan and stood on the saddle of his stallion Killinick Rebel, peering over the side of the arena to see other riders negotiate the course. So engrossed in trying to memorise the course, he did not notice the stallion move and he fell off and cracked ribs. But he did not miss hunting the following day, despite the pain, and gave up on show jumping, as he considered it too dangerous!

Jack was predeceased by his wife Ann, and was a brother to Anna and Josephine and the late Nick and Mary. He will be sadly missed by his children Patricia, Richard, Kay, Ann, Tony, Clare and Jane, his sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives and friends.

Requiem Mass was celebrated in St Martin’s Church in Piercetown, with a guard of honour by St Fintan’s GAA Club and Killinick Harriers members, as he was laid to rest beside his wife Ann in Ballymore Cemetery to the sound of ‘Going Home’ on the hunting horn by former huntsman Ado Moran.

A memorial for Jack will be held by his many friends in the Genesee Valley Hunt in New York in October.