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King William dies

Britain’s most successful event horse, King William, has been put down aged 19

King William, the event horse who gave Mary King her first Badminton win in 1992, was put down lastweek following an injury to his pastern.

The 19-year-old British-bred gelding by Nickel King, who holds the record for the highest ever British Eventing (BE) points total, suffered a cut to his hoof and pastern in April which, despite treatment, failed to heal.

Mary’s enduring memory will be of that very first Badminton victory.

Winning Badminton on King William the best moment of my career,” she said. “He was an incredibly sound horse who was renowned for his cross-country ability.

The public adored him – he was very recognisable with his big white blaze. A fan once sent him a letter addressed to ‘King William, Devon’ and it reached us.”

King William was spending his retirement in Devon with Mary’s long-term head girl Annie Collings, who looked after him since Gill Robinson bought him from Bernice Strong’s Chieveley yard as a five-year-old.

“He was a remarkable horse – intelligent and kind,” said Gill. “Henever had a nasty thought in his head and was always surrounded by people who adored him. He was very sensitive to people and atmosphere, although that sometimes made it difficult for him show jumping.”

For Annie, King William’s Badminton and Gatcombe wins were particularly special, as was being part of the British team at such places as the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics.

‘Will’ was always the Rolls Royce of the yard,” she said. “He was handsome and loving; he loved life and attention and really enjoyed being pampered. He hated being on his own and always made friends with whoever was in the next door stable.”

  • Click here to view our special pictorial tribute to King William

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