Reigning Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Cuddy supreme in-hand champion Broadstone Dolce Vita (Dee) has died suddenly from a ruptured artery.

The 18-year-old sport horse broodmare — by the Hanoverian sire Demonstrator out of the TB  Deborah Coy — was jointly owned by Pearl Underwood and Billy Moran, and retired to stud in 2013 after a glittering career under saddle.

Dee’s riding horse successes started with Jo Bates and her subsequent victories with Amy Underwood included multiple county show titles and a supreme in 2009 at the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) national championships at Addington. In addition, she notched up top five placings at the Royal International Horse Show and HOYS each year for five consecutive years.

On her in-hand debut as a matron in 2014, Dee was sport horse champion and won the Cuddy qualifier at Royal Highland — standing sixth at HOYS that year. Other major titles with Billy include Hambleton — where she has been supreme of show for the last two years — North of England, Royal Norfolk, Midland Counties and Derbyshire Festival, where she has twice headed her section, and earned her winning HOYS ticket last year.

Dee returned to Addington last September with Billy to take the Martin Wood supreme in-hand title for the second consecutive year, going on to score the team’s first Cuddy triumph at HOYS. 

She was in foal again to the Morans’ home-bred stallion Tiger Attack, by whom she had already borne three colts, and her retirement from showing was announced in January.

“We are all devastated,” said Billy, with whom she was based in Co Durham. “It was very sudden — she was absolutely fine the night before — and although the vets were extremely quick to try and save her, she wasn’t strong enough to keep fighting. We have no idea how it happened.

“I loved Dee from the first moment I saw her, and begged Pearl to let me have her as a broodmare when she finished ridden showing,” he added. “This mare gave me opportunities I’d never thought possible — she took me everywhere and fulfilled so many of my dreams.

“She is buried at home in her field in a place where she would always stand when relaxing. We are trying to come to terms with this tragic loss.”

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Pearl, at whose Suffolk yard Dee lived for five years, was also stunned by the mare’s sudden death. “We’re just gutted,” she said. “We feel so privileged to have owned her though — she was the most wonderful mare anyone could ever have wished for. I am also so pleased that she made Billy’s dreams come true.

“We have pictures of her all around the house so she will never be forgotten.”

Pearl’s daughter Amy added: “Dee has given so many of us such great memories. I am so grateful to have had her — I adored her.”

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