Blenheim winner Viceroy II was put down on Wednesday 2 March after suffering a prolonged bout of colic.

The British-bred stallion, which was owned by Sue and Lizzy Bunn, was taken ill on 12 February and had two lots of surgery to try and save him.

“He had fought it, he was trying his very best but he just wasn’t healing properly,” says Lizzy Bunn. “We decided enough was enough last night as he would never recover from it.”

Viceroy II was bred “by accident” when international show jumper VIP covered one of Sue Bunn’s Thoroughbred mares. He started off as a show jumper but changed to eventing when he was eight in what quickly proved to be a great move.

Viceroy won Blenheim last September to become the only stallion ever to win a three-star event. The Blenheim victory was his best result ever, but he had also been long-listed for the Olympics and finished third at Blenheim in 2003.

Pippa Funnell, who rode Viceroy to victory at Blenheim last year, is distraught, according to Bunn, who says: “We are obviously all devastated.”

Viceroy’s death will be a great loss for the sport and for British breeding. “He was the top-rated eventing stallion in the country,” says Bunn. But, she adds, “at least he went out and had a good win at Blenheim, which was his last run.”