One of the greatest event horses of all time, Avebury, was put down yesterday (6 September), aged 16.

The mount of Andrew Nicholson, owned by Rosemary and Mark Barlow was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his jaw a few weeks ago. This tumour developed rapidly and sadly there was no appropriate treatment for it and so the decision was made to put him down.

Andrew and Wiggy said: “We were deeply shocked at the rapid progression of the cancer, as only a few weeks ago he was thoroughly enjoying being ridden by Lily in his retirement.

“Our only relief is that we were able to ensure he did not suffer, and were able to make the right decision in the interests of his welfare — which has always been our absolute priority.

“He has been part of our family for a very long time and has given Andrew some of the greatest days of his career. He will be deeply missed.”

The popular grey won Burghley Horse Trials a record three times (2012-2014) and Barbury Castle CIC3* four times.

They also completed Badminton three times, with their highest placing being 10th at the 2011 event. Other career highlights include winning the CCI* at Tattersalls in 2007, and winning the CCI2* at the same event in 2008, winning the CCI3* at Saumur in 2009 and they were also second in the eight- and nine-year-old CIC3* at Blenheim in the same year.

The son of Jumbo, who was bred and broken in by Andrew, was known as “Buddy” — a nickname given to him as a foal by Andrew’s daughters Rebecca and Melissa.

Andrew sold him as a showjumper but Wiggy (Andrew’s wife) bought him back as a six-year-old and she started his eventing career, competing him 11 times at novice level in 2006.

Andrew took over the ride in 2007.

“Rosemary Barlow wanted a new horse, so I said to her that I thought I knew of one,” said Andrew.

“Wiggy went away for a few days, so I sneaked him up to the gallops to see what he could do. I was quite impressed, so I suggested Rosemary bought him for me to ride.”

Andrew and Avebury competed at 71 events, culminating in 27 wins and 2,113 British Eventing points.

Avebury was retired from eventing in April 2016 after his final and only run this year at Great Witchingham in March where he won. Rosemary Barlow explained the decision to retire was made as “old age had begun to catch up with him” and that Avebury was “a horse of a lifetime” and “owed them nothing”.

Since retiring Avebury has been hacked out and Andrew and Wiggy’s children, Lily and Zach, enjoyed riding him.

Avebury has been buried in the garden, at his home, Westwood Stud.