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Farewell Sir Wattie

HHO pays tribute to Ian Stark’s former ride and dual-Badminton winner Sir Wattie who has been put down aged 26

Sir Wattie, Olympic silver medallist and double Badminton champion, has been put to sleep at the age of 26.

Ridden by Ian Stark, the “pair from the Borders” formed a formidable partnership and represented Great Britain at the 1988 Seoul Olympics where they won individual and team silver.

In a careerthat spanned seven years, Sir Wattie clocked up 853 points and amassed £19,215 in prize-money.

Ian and Sir Wattie won individual bronze at the 1986 Europeans in Bialy Bor in Poland, as well as Badminton in the same year and again in 1988.

An exceptional horse

Bred by Dame Jean Maxwell Scott and Mrs Luzya Wyhowska, Sir Wattie was by Bronze Hill out of their hunter Rosie. He spent his early days at Abbottsford the home of Dame Jean before Ian Stark went to try him.

“The first time I sat on him was in an indoor school,” said Ian. “He bucked and nearly sent me into the rafters and I thought; he is either going to be very good or useless!

The gangly quarter Welsh Cob colt that Dame Jean initially thought would be a “very nice hunter” proved to be exceptional and went on to great things.

He was retired from competition after Seoul Olympics because as Ian explained “He had nothing left to prove.”

An active retirement

Sir Wattie went to National Hunt trainer Henrietta Knights’ yard where he spent his time hunting and acting as nanny to the young racehorses.

Speaking about Sir Wattie from her home in Wantage, Oxon, Henrietta Knight said: “Ian was keen for him to lead a less taxing life while still remaining active.

“I had been on the selection committee for eventing and had always admired him. He was a real gentleman and was always a stabilising influence for the younger horses.”

At the grand age of 26 Wattie was becoming increasingly arthritic and the decision was made to put him to sleep. He was finding it difficult to stand for the farrier and everyone concerned was keen that he didn’t suffer through the winter.

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