Working hunter specialist Louise Bell has lost her “most loyal and reliable horse” — Cruise Control — after complications from surgery.

Fourteen-year-old “Rusty” was put down on 2 January following surgery for a strangulating lymphoma round his small intestine.

He is the fourth top horse that Louise has lost in the past 18 months following the deaths of Rock Star in August 2010, Man on Fire in July 2010 and Out of Sight in August 2009.

“I am lucky to have had such an amazing horse for the past 11 years. He lived like a king and never went without,” Louise told H&H. “He was a horse loved and respected by many people and the most consistent horse I have ever had.

“My young horses have very large shoes to fill as a whole new team needs to be built.”

Cruise Control was an H&H cover star in 2007, when he was ridden by Lucinda Green as part of her Lucinda rides series (19 July 2007).

Despite admitting showing has never been her thing, Lucinda enthused about the 16.2hh son of Cruising’s jump, saying he felt as if he could “seriously accelerate”.

And Geoff Luckett had an H&H Christmas “gift ride” on the gelding in 2006, pronouncing him “so easy you could jump him on the phone”.

Louise and Cruise Control won numerous titles at Windsor, Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International Horse Show, including winning last year’s lightweight working hunter at Royal Windsor.

He was also regularly hunted with the Warwickshire and Heythrop.