Highpoint – the horse who catapulted Australian Paul Tapner into the limelight – has been put to sleep at the age of 22.

The Polish warmblood fell ill suddenly at his owner Sarah Smith’s home in Gloucestershire on 5 March.

Highpoint – or “Joey” – was bought by Sarah as a four-year-old when she was a teenager. He took her from Pony Club eventing to advanced before Paul took over the ride.

Paul and Joey won Bramham CCI*** in 2000 on only their seventh run together.

Sarah told H&H: “He really was one of those fairy tale horses. He took me all the way and taught me a lot.

“He was a huge character. Since he was a four-year-old it’s been in his system to stand on his hind legs – when I say hind legs, it was vertical!

“But one he got out of the start box [on the cross-country] he was fine.”

Paul – who went on to complete Badminton and Burghley with Highpoint – described him as “the horse that put me on the northern hemisphere map”.

“Winning Bramham prompted me to remain in the UK in my quest to event at the top of the sport.

“RIP and thank you for being such a great horse,” he added.

Paul reached the pinnacle of eventing in 2010 when he won Badminton on Inonothing.

Joey returned to Sarah in 2005. She evented him for a further season before he went to a series of riders as a dressage schoolmaster.

He was competing at advanced dressage with Emily Carmichael until last summer, when the decision was taken to retire him.

“Quite a few people learnt a lot from him,” said Sarah.