IN a unique double, two major National Driving Championships have been won by close neighbours in West Sussex. Gary Docking and Jeff Osborne are both celebrating winning top titles in private driving - and whilst they are highly competitive in the ring, they are the best of friends outside it.
Jeff Osborne, (75) of West Ashling, near Chichester, achieved his first win in a showing championship at the Horse of the Year Show this month by taking the Xerox Special Event Services Harness Championship, driving his own black Hackney, Hamewith Lochnagar.
Meanwhile, Gary Docking (45), who is based at Heyshott, has won the British Driving Society National Championship, held this year at Addington, with Marion Woolley’s warmblood, Striker. “Jeff and I live within ten miles of each other, and it is the first time that two major championships have been won by West Sussex competitors in the same season,” said Gary, who has been in the sport for 30 years. He is a professional producer, trainer and exhibitor of carriage driving horses.
Jeff‘s competitive career started in motor cycle racing and he turned to horses, progressing from hunting, show jumping, showing working hunters, hacks and cobs. He is a keen scurry driving competition and sponsors top equestrian events with his company, Osborne Refrigeration, -including the class which Gary won this year. His long-time head groom and producer is Alison Tucker, a top competitor in her own right.
For full feature and more equestrian news, see Sussex Horse World, West Sussex Gazette, October 19 2011.