Bettina Hoy retired top eventer Ringwood Cockatoo in a special ceremony at the Dutch CCI***, Boekelo, last weekend. He is 18 years old.

The Hoys explained on their website: “Bettina and Cockatoo paraded around the arena while J.P. Fair sang a song he specially wrote for the occasion ‘Thank you for being a friend’. The beautifully chosen words and the music brought tears of emotion to 
Bettina and thousands of the spectators.

“Boekelo was a perfect retirement venue as he won in 2002. It is close to Bettina’s childhood home of Rheine in Germany and where there were over 100 international riders with many German and UK competitors who knew and admired the combination so much.”

Ringwood Cockatoo won 10 times at three-star level and also triumphed in two four-stars, the first CCI**** at Luhmühlen in 2005 and at Pau in 2008.

He took the individual bronze medal at the 2007 European Championships in Pratoni (pictured), the team bronze at the 2005 Europeans at Blenheim and team gold at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen. He earned 2087 British Eventing points during his career.

The elegant grey was pretty much unbeatable in the dressage phase, with memorable performances including leading at both the 2005 and 2007 Europeans, and at the Express Eventing competition last year.

Ringwood Cockatoo’s background

Ringwood Cockatoo was bred in Ireland by Hilary Greer, by the Ireland-based French thoroughbred Peacock, out of a mare called Baileys Folly. He passed through Michael Leonard’s dealing yard in Ringwood in Co Limerick — hence his name — and was sold to Swiss rider Nadine Sola-Perret, who was based with Tiny Clapham. Nadine rode him to two-star level but found him quite strong. The Hoys originally thought he might be suitable for a pupil.

He was ridden by Bettina’s Australian husband Andrew to start with, but Bettina took over when he was busy concentrating on his Olympic horses in 2000. When Andrew rode Ringwood Cockatoo again in 2001, he didn’t click with the horse and Bettina got the ride.