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Guy Williams has paid tribute to his “brilliant” horse Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof, who has died of a heart attack.

The 14-year-old gelding was with Lambourn-based racing trainer Charlie Mann, a friend of Guy’s, to get fit for the Hickstead Derby (25 June) when he collapsed on the gallops a week ago last Friday (26 May).

“You try to do the best thing by them [the horse] and something like this happens,” Guy told H&H.

“I think that’s the worst thing — that he wasn’t at home when it happened.”

Guy said the 18hh Belgian gelding had “only been cantering early in the morning, but he’s a big horse”.

“We had him checked before he left and he was fine and he’d never had any heart problems before,” he added.

“But it could have happened at any time and I’m just grateful it didn’t happen in the ring.”

Guy and Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof had enjoyed numerous international successes, with their most recent win coming in a four-star grand prix in Vejer de la Frontera in March.

“He’s been a brilliant horse for us — we’ve had him nine or 10 years, his whole career basically,” Guy said. “He’s won so much for us and Lindsay [Doran]has been such a loyal owner with him.

“They’ve become family friends rather than just owners. They’ve been so understanding.

“It’s hard to lose any horse, but it’s so much harder when you’ve had them so long. We’ve had him cremated.”

Charlie told H&H the horse had been “going super”.

“He loved it,” he added. “He was in good form.”