Stunning ended his eventing career on an all-time high this weekend, retaining the Scottish Open Championship title with a win in the GLM*** Open Championship at Thirlestane Castle this weekend.
The veteran New Zealand thoroughbred lay second after the dressage, behind British Open Champions Ruth Friend and Two Thyme, the cross country held no fear for the combination, and they were the only pair to finish within the allotted time. A tidy show-jumping round allowed William Fox-Pitt and Stunning to sneak ahead of Friend and they grabbed the title in sparkling fashion.
Stunning arrived on William Fox-Pitt’s doorstep as a 13-year-old in 1999, having spent two-and-a-half seasons competing with Mark Todd. Originally from New Zealand, the early part of the gelding’s career was spent on a racecourse and in the show jumping arena, providing the ultimate grounding for what proved to be a meteoric rise through the ranks of British eventing.
Within a year he had finished 7th at Punchestown, and by the end of the following season he had clocked up his first win at three star level in Achselschwang. The following summer, Stunning moved to William Fox-Pitt’s yard, and so began a successful partnership which has spanned more than five years.
Their most notable results include wins at Blenheim, Gatcombe, Chatsworth and Thirlestane, as well as forming part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2001 European Championships in Pau. And although the gelding never truly found the groove at four star level, he achieved an amazing result at Lexington in 2002, when a superb cross country round hoisted him into fourth place.
Stunning’s owners Jayne and George Apter wanted the horse to finish “at the top”, and on just such a winning streak has the old warrior been sent into retirement. Crowned Leading Event Horse of the Year in 2001, the horse has etched his name in the eventing hall of fame.
“He has been a great servant to the Apters, myself and the sport of eventing. He is fit and well and we wanted to retire him at the top of the sport”, commented Fox-Pitt.
Thirlestane GLM*** Open Championship Results
1. Stunning (William Fox-Pitt) 43.1
2. Two Thyme (Ruth Friend) 46.0
3. Foreign Exchange (Terry Boon) 47.7
4. Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt) 49.5
5. Tangleman (Polly Stockton) 59.5
6. Karl d’Cymbeline (Lucy Kemplay) 66.6