When John Whitaker revealed this week that his top stallion Argento was being retired at the age of 18, it felt like the end of a golden era.
Together this pair thrilled us with their exploits in the arena and we saw them gallop, with sparks flying, to victory all over the world.
Huge cheers greet John whenever he enters the ring, but with “Archie” there was something special.
So often it seemed as though there was no fence the son of Arko III couldn’t clear, no horse who could outpace him and no combination that could outsmart him.
To celebrate this awesome stallion, we pick out just 12 of the many reasons Archie has captured our hearts.
1. He has the kindest eye and is one of the smartest horses on the circuit
“Look at me” Archie seems to say, and we do because his presence is magnetic. This is one handsome beast.
2. He believes he can fly
Who needs wings when your name is Argento?
3. He has a sense of humour
While John is all smiles for the camera after one of their biggest wins at the Longines Hong Kong Masters of 2015, Argento is busy sticking out his tongue at ringmaster Pedro Cebulka…
4. He’s as agile as cat
With athleticism, scope and natural speed, Argento ticks every box — and more — in the attributes required to make it as a top-flight showjumper.
5. He has star quality
Of course he has all the ability, but in Argento John also found a horse with the X-factor.
6. The sky’s the limit
John and Argento soar over 1.60m verticals like they are cross-poles, not least here in the CSI4* Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy at Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2016.
7. He is more popular than The Beatles*
*OK, that may not quite be true, but Argento’s fan club is HUGE.
8. His longevity marks him out as a superstar
John first took the reins on a seven-year-old Argento, who was bred in Great Britain by Keeley Durham, and the stallion was still winning international classes at the tremendous age of 17.
9. He is ultra-reliable
As John says, “When you put Argento on the truck, you knew you’d be winning”. They were a core part of Nations Cup teams as well as enjoying individual success.
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10. ‘You want me to jump it from here? No problem!’
With great enthusiasm, he can take out strides, he can turn on a sixpence and all with his ears pricked.
11. He conquered the world
One of Argento’s biggest wins came at the 2015 Longines Hong Kong Masters where, out of the three classes he jumped, he won two — including the grand prix — and was third in the other.
12. His Hollywood good looks means he fits right in on Miami Beach
Even the local body-builders don’t get a look-in when Argento is around.
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