Francis Whittington has retired his 4-star ride Sir Percival III from competition.
Francis and the horse’s owner, Margrete Paget, decided to step Sir Percival III down from 4-star to compete in CIC3*s after Pau last autumn. But they have now decided he will not compete again at all.
“This winter Percy told us he no longer felt comfortable to compete,” wrote Francis on his blog. “Maggie Paget, Percy’s owner and I had a long discussion and took the sad decision to retire him from competition riding. It was fitting that his final run was a near perfect ride around Pau, which was his first 4-star run back in 2007.”
Sir Percival III, a 17-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 and Sir Percival III were particularly noted as a fast, smooth cross-country combination.
“[Dressage] was always our weakest phase, but he never failed to bring a smile back to everyone’s face come cross-country day,” said Francis. “Percy and I had an incredible relationship on the cross-country and knew each other so well that I knew exactly how a course would ride with him.
“Percy is without doubt the horse that put my career on the map, being reserve for the British team on many occasions, I am sad that he never got the opportunity to represent his country but the fact that he and I were recognised as a combination to watch is also a huge achievement.
“Percy retiring is sad for the whole team, myself, Sharon [Mepham] my head girl and Maggie, his owner, who I know will miss the big competitions and the thrill of watching her amazing horse make the toughest course look like a Pony Club track.
“Maggie has been a long-term supporter and a fun, enthusiastic owner to have around. She has another very exciting young horse making his way up the ranks, so I am sure it will be no time at all before she is back at the big ones again to watch him. If he turns out to be half as good as Percy on the cross-country we are on to a winner.”
Owner Margrete Paget said: “I am unbelievably proud of Percy and Francis’ achievements. From the moment I 1st saw Percy I loved him, and he certainly turned out to be a character 2nd to none!
“As a result of their unique bond, Percy and Francis, backed up by Sharon’s expert care and attention and also the valued support from family and professionals, friends and strangers,were able to have an amazing career together, a rollercoaster which I was lucky enough to enjoy 1st hand. I would recommend it to anyone, and my thanks go to everyone involved.”