Francis Whittington’s ride Sir Percival III has been retired from top-level eventing.

Sir Percival recently went clear inside the time across country at Pau CCI4*, but he was unable to trot up on Sunday due to a sore back.

“We were thinking prior to Pau that this may be his last 4-star run,” wrote Francis in his blog. “It was at Pau where he first started his CCI4* career back in 2007, so we felt it would be a nice jolly to take him back for a final hurrah.

“Our fears were confirmed early on Sunday morning when his back was too sore and we felt it was not in his best interests to present to the trot-up. After yet another amazing cross-country clear in the time there was nothing he needed to prove.

“I am very pleased to say by the time we had packed up to leave on Monday, he was back to his normal cheeky self and feeling very well. He travelled home and came off the truck bouncing around and is now having a well earned rest.”

Francis goes on to write that the horse’s owner Margrete Paget and himself have discussed Sir Percival’s future and decided to step him down to CIC3* competitions.

“The cross-country is a lot less taxing and the distances a lot shorter [at CIC3*],” says Francis. “Percy’s mind still very much loves his job. Although he is fit and well to compete at 1-day competitions, 3-days are too much of an ask now.”

Sir Percival III, a 16-year-old by Puissance, has completed 8 4-star events, 7 of them in the top 20. His best result is 10th at Burghley 2010. He was on the reserve list for the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 and has been a reserve for 2 European Championships.

Francis goes on to pay tribute to his partner: “Percy is known for his cross-country and I honestly believe there is not a track that Percy and I couldn’t tackle and not get the time.  He is a legend within the sport of eventing in my eyes. I will miss riding him at the top level and not having him to take to the big competitions will leave a very large hole.

“It never ceases to amaze Maggie [his owner] or me at just how many supporters Percy has. The whole team think an awful lot of Percy and it’s nice to know that others enjoy watching him compete as much as we do.”

Francis also thanks his head girl, Sharon Mepham, who has looked after Percy since he was a “cheeky, naughty” novice horse.