John and Vicki Keen’s showing champion, Frankie, put to sleep

By Nicola Jane Swinney on |


RIP JT McNamara

Multi-champion hack Marquis of Queensbury (Frankie) was put to sleep on Monday at the age of 21. The winner of more than 100 championships, Frankie was bred by former show jumper John Keen and his wife Vicki at their Buckinghamshire farm.

“He was one of the most honest, genuine and consistent of horses we have ever been blessed enough to have shared his life,” said Vicki Keen.

She revealed that the horse had had colic-type symptoms the previous week, which had seemed to have eased off. But on the Friday he was unwell again, and John Keen sat up with him all night.

“He worsened and the vet and John agreed he had had enough,” added Keen.
By the Keens’ stallion Stelby, Frankie was full Thoroughbred and was third in the Ayr Gold Cup.

“I seldom galloped him as at top speed because I was quite scared — he was too fast,” said Keen. “He was a small and not pretty so l said to John, ‘If you don’t want him, he’s mine.’

We called him Frankie after Dettori because, although he was small at 15 hands, he was a champion and had a great personality. He was bred, broken and produced from our amateur home, and only ridden by John or myself.”

Among Marquis of Queensbury’s myriad laurels were large hack of the year at HOYS four times and championships at Royal Windsor, Royal International, The Royal, East and South of England, Royal Welsh, Royal Bath & West and the national finals, to mention but a few.

“Apart from all that he was quite the nicest, kindest and most genuine of horses,” said Keen. “His only minus was his fixation on his two best friends, Absolutely Fabulous and then Absolutely. At his first RIHS he was pulled in top, did a lovely show, then spotted his Ab Fab being led back to the box. Until then he had been behaving perfectly for the judge Miss Waddilove, a beautiful rider. Then he suddenly went mad! We took him out of the ring but he was completely panicked — his best mate was going without him.”

Frankie will be laid to rest at the Keens’ farm, next to another of their many great show horses, Royal Return.

“People talk about cloning,” said Keen wistfully, “and oh, I would love him back. Then I could do him more justice…”



  1. Linda berry

    This is so sad i lost my boy at 32 so to lose franki at only 21 you will be devastated my heart goes out to you god bless frankiand i hope hes jumping the rainbows. Xx


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