The great and good event horses we said farewell to in 2021

  • Here we take a look back on 2021 and remember those top event horses who died or were retired this year...

    Walnut (died December 2021)

    Age: 33
    Riders: Claire Caldin, Simon Lucey, Laura Collett, Nicholas Lucey, Imogen Gloag, Sophie Norman
    Owner: Claire Caldin

    The 15.2hh bay gelding Walnut was a legend in his own lifetime, giving a taste of eventing to several riders who have gone on to compete at the top level, including Olympic team gold medallist and five-star winner Laura Collett. He jumped 30 double clears around novices and CCI*s (now CCI2*-Ls) and gave Laura her first three-day win, in the junior CCI* (now CCI2*-L) at Weston Park in 2004, a feat they repeated the following year, as well as two wins at the Pony Club Championships.

    ​​”An absolute legend of a horse who taught so many riders the ropes of eventing – thank you for all the memories ‘Wally’,” said Laura.

    Henton Attorney General (died December 2021)

    Lizzie Brown and Henton Attorney General at Belton Park in 2015 event horse

    Breeding: Anamour x Distelfink
    Age: 21
    Breeder: Henton Lodge Hanoverians
    Riders: Lizzie Green (née Brown) and Rosa Onslow
    Owners: Tessa Grant and Lizzie Green

    The chestnut won eight times internationally, including taking Blair CCI2* (now CCI3*-L) and Boekelo CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) with Lizzie Green, before giving young rider Rosa Onslow experience eventing in his later years and later doing dressage with Rosa’s aunt, Fiona Campbell-Fraser.

    Lizzie, who was only 17 when she started riding “Frank”, said it takes a special horse to take a young rider up through the grades and put up with “all the mistakes along the way”.

    “Some he was very forgiving of and others not, I learnt so much. I guess that’s the case when you have a Ferrari as your first horse – there will undoubtedly be some dents along the way. Together we experienced the highest highs and lowest lows and travelled all around the world together,” she said.

    Stormhill Kossack (died November 2021)

    <p>Gemma Tattersall riding STORMHILL KOSSACK during the Little Downham Horse Trials, 1 October 2012</p>

    Breeding: by Kremlin VII
    Age: 23
    Riders: Andrew Nicholson, Giovanni Ugolotti and Gemma Tattersall
    Owners: Deborah and Martin Ewing

    The Ewings’ “horse of a lifetime” was short-listed for the London Olympics with Giovanni Ugolotti and finished 12th at Pau 2010 with Giovanni and 10th at the same event in 2012 with Gemma Tattersall.

    “Horses like that are a class apart,” said Deborah. “There’s something different about them.

    “When he got shortlisted for the Olympics, there was a primary school down the road and the headmistress came out to say some parents were a bit worried about us hacking past. She said, ‘They’ve heard this horse is going to the Olympics and they’re frightened they might drive into him’! We had to avoid school-run times after that, but he was a celebrity in our area.”

    Mr Bass (retired November 2021)

    Aachen eventing results 2021: Laura Collett and Mr Bass

    Breeding: Carrico x Exorbitant xx
    Age: 13
    Breeder: Heinz Henning
    Rider: Laura Collett
    Owners: rider, Nick How and Keith Scott

    Mr Bass’s achievements include winning the seven-year-old World Championships and second place at Luhmühlen in 2018. He won three times at four-star level and was placed in the top 10 internationally 22 times in total.

    “He is a bit of freak really, the amount of times he finished on his dressage score,” said rider Laura Collett. “He’s got an unbelievable record, there’s no other horse that loves the job as much as he does. The bigger the challenge, the better he was. He’s like a human. He knows he’s special and that he’s top dog – and he makes sure everyone else knows he’s top dog.”

    Zenshera (retired in October 2021)

    Breeding: Guidam x Matterhorn
    Age: 17
    Breeder: J and GH Morsink
    Rider and owner: Ros Canter

    Zenshera finished in the top 10 at five-star five times. Known as a Pau specialist, he actually achieved his best top-level result at Luhmühlen when he was third in 2018.

    “‘Alfie’ means the world to me,” said rider Ros Canter. “We didn’t buy him to go five-star, but Alfie’s heart always wanted to do more, and so he ended up doing six five-stars, five of which we were top 10. One was while I was pregnant with Ziggy and another was three months after having her. He was the horse that made me believe that I could.”

    Zagreb (retired in October 2021)

    Zagreb retirement: the five-star stalwart will step down from top-level competition

    Breeding: Perion x Nagano
    Age: 17
    Breeder: HJ Leyser
    Rider: Alex Bragg
    Owner: Philip and Sally Ellicott

    Zagreb landed five top-five placings at five-star during his career and is the horse who pushed Alex Bragg into the spotlight and allowed him to move away from being a farrier to being an event rider.

    “We made some big mistakes together, but when we hit the deck, we dusted ourselves off and never held anything against each other, but built from there and went on to the next event,” said Alex.
    “In the last few years when we were established together, we started really to enjoy ourselves. His consistency was outstanding. I feel I’ve got a responsibility to do right by him. That’s why I’m making the decision to retire him now. I don’t need him to do any more for me – it’s time for me to do something for him.”

    Leonidas II (retired in September 2021)

    Padraig McCarthy riding Leonidas II at the 2021 European Championships

    Breeding: Landos x Parco xx
    Age: 17
    Breeder: Gabriele Pochhammer
    Riders: Mark Todd and Padraig McCarthy
    Owner: Diane Brunsden and Peter Cattell

    A stalwart of top-level competition, Leonidas achieved top-six placings at three consecutive Badmintons in 2015, 2016 and 2017, was sixth at Burghley 2015 and seventh individually at the Rio Olympics with Mark Todd. When Mark retired, he moved to Padraig McCarthy, winning Barroca d’Alva CCI4*-L in March 2020 and representing Ireland at the 2021 European Championships.

    “He has always had the heart of a lion,” said owner Diane Brunsden. “He was fast and straight and everything you would look for in an event horse. He seemed to find it all very easy.”

    The Lion (retired in August 2021)

    Matt Heath's five-star event horse The Lion has retired at the age of 19

    Breeding: Ricardo Z x Nad Elshiba
    Age: 19
    Rider: Matthew Heath
    Owners: Emma Clarke, Clare Davis and rider

    Five-star stalwart The Lion completed four Burghleys and one Badminton, with two 22nd places at Burghley.

    “He’s the horse who made my dreams come true,” said his rider and part-owner Matt Heath. “He’s given me the opportunity to ride at the highest level, and will never want for anything – I owe him masses. He’s everybody’s favourite – a cheeky, loving horse who knows he’s king of the yard. He thinks he should always be first in my priorities, every day.”

    Party Trick (died in August 2021)

    stallion Party Trick Nick Gauntlett riding Party Trick at Burnham Market in April 2021.

    Breeding: Chilli Morning x Tolan R
    Age: nine
    Breeder, rider and owner: Nick Gauntlett

    The chestnut stallion Party Trick was one of four horses who lost their lives when a lorry hit Nick Gauntlett’s horsebox after it broke down on the final section of the journey to Blair Castle Horse Trials.

    Afterwards, Pammy Hutton and Islay Auty, with Nick’s support, launched a fundraising campaign, with the aim of establishing a breeding project using Party Trick’s frozen semen.

    “Without a doubt Party Trick was the best horse I’ve ever ridden, and he was more than that – he was passing great qualities to the next generation,” said Nick. “The more I’ve thought about the legacy, it’s allowing him the opportunity to be great as a sire when he didn’t get the chance to be great in his own right. It would be amazing to have a son or daughter at the Olympics or winning a big competition.”

    Continuity (died in August 2021)

    David Britnell riding CONTINUITY during the cross country phase of the Equi-Trek CCI*** at the Bramham International Horse Trials on the Bramham Estate near Weatherby in North Yorkshire in the UK on 9th June 2018

    Breeding: Contender x Heraldik
    Age: 17
    Rider: David Britnell
    Owners: rider and his mother Dawn

    Continuity took David Britnell to his five-star debut. The pair competed in the Badminton Grassroots Championships in 2013 and six years later, completed the five-star there, having also been 10th in the five-star at Pau in 2018.

    “Badminton was one of those things that you’d never really think you would do. The whole time I was at the competition in 2019 it was just sheer elation and I felt so proud we were even there,” he said. “It was lovely to walk from the stables to the main ring, people would stop and speak to Brad. Being there was the cherry on top, a phenomenal thing to come of what was essentially just a Pony Club horse.”

    Primitive Proposal (died in May 2021)

    breeding stallion Primitive Proposal put down

    Breeding: Primitive Rising x Hoarwithy
    Age: 21
    Owner: Charles Upham of Langaller Stud

    A Burghley young event horse finalist and competitor at British Dressage winter regionals before he concentrated on his breeding career, this thoroughbred stallion’s offspring include advanced eventers and show horses, and stallion The After Party, owned by Nick Gauntlett.

    Owner Charles Upham said: “He was really good to handle and to collect from. For a thoroughbred and an older horse you couldn’t have wished for a nicer or more genuine horse. He used to go in the paddock every day, but after 10 minutes he’d always be back at the gate kicking it, wanting to come in. He wanted to go out, have a buck and a roll and then he’d say ‘I’ve done that, now I want to come back in’.”

    Quicklook V (retired in May 2021)

    Quicklook V retired

    Breeding: Urkel x Quick Star
    Age: 16
    Breeder: Vicky Gosling and Vicky Hart
    Rider: Gemma Tattersall
    Owner: The Pebbles Syndicate

    Quicklook V scored major wins at Chatsworth CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) in 2017 and Bramham CCI4*-S in 2019, was part of the British team at the Rio 2016 Olympics and finished eighth as an individual at the 2017 Europeans.

    Rider Gemma Tattersall said: “She’s a fantastic little horse, especially considering she was bought as a project for well under £10,000! She wasn’t bought to be what she has turned out to be, which makes it even more special. She has a heart of gold.”

    Wesko (retired May 2021)

    Breeding: Karandasj x Mytens xx
    Age: 18
    Breeder: RJM Schoenaker
    Rider: Tim Price
    Owners: The Windrush Foundation and rider

    Wesko won Luhmühlen in 2014, among his six international victories, and also finished second at Kentucky and third in Pau in 2015, as well as third at Pau in 2020. After a lay-off due to injury and the death of his owner Christina Knusden, he moved into the ownership of The Windrush Foundation, formed in Christina’s memory to help nurture young equestrian talent.

    “He doesn’t ooze raw ability and scope, but he has an amazing brain – whatever scope he’s lacked, he makes up for with his technique,” said Tim. “‘Dash’ has been a real marksman for my career – after the cross-country when he won Luhmühlen I realised I was on my first serious horse at that level.”

    Balmoral Sensation (retired in May 2021)

    Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation Olympic horse retired

    Breeding: Senator VDL x Aberlou
    Age: 17
    Breeder: David Goodin
    Rider: Clarke Johnstone
    Owner: Johnstone Family

    Balmoral Sensation finished fifth at Badminton in 2016 and sixth at the Rio Olympics the same year, as well as winning 16 times in New Zealand and Australia with Clarke and previous rider Donna Edwards-Smith, including at Adelaide CCI4* (now CCI5*) in 2017 with Clarke.

    “In the seven years I have ridden ‘Ritchie’ he has taken not just me, but my family and friends on the most incredible journey – all over the world, from Adelaide and Aachen to Badminton, Brazil and Belgium, and always in the prizes,” said Clarke. “Through the highs and lows of sport, the triumphs and the tears, Ritchie has been the most amazing teammate. Brave, honest and so clever. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me or me for him.”

    Welton Envoy (died in April 2021)

    Breeding: Welton Crackerjack x Ben Faerie
    Age: 34
    Breeders and owners: Linda Barr and her late husband Sam of the Welton Stud
    Rider: Blyth Tait

    Welton Envoy won Kentucky CCI4* (now five-star) in 2000 and represented New Zealand in the individual competition at that year’s Olympics.

    “He was a real sweetheart,” said rider Blyth Tait. “He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was really solid in temperament and focused; he was a bit strong cross-country and not the easiest to balance and steady up, but if the track, like at Kentucky, was bold and flowing, he was much nicer to ride. He was a flash mover for an event horse, with a massive trot, and he could score nines for his walk.”

    Alter Ego (died in April 2021)

    Kate Walls riding ALTER EGO Placed 14th in OI Section C at Little Downham Horse Trials at Ely Eventing Centre, Cambridgeshire, UK, 30th May 2014

    Breeding: by Jack Of Diamonds
    Age: 22
    Rider and owner: Kate Walls

    The “chunky” 15.3hh event horse completed Burghley in 2010, having made a comeback from breaking his sixth lumbar vertebrae on his first attempt at five-star in 2009 – an injury owner-rider Kate Walls was told was likely to end his ridden career.

    Kate said: “Dennis was the most generously kind horse to ride, who forgave every mistake I made and always gave 100% at everything he did. In the stable he would terrify people if they didn’t know him as he would snarl at you with his ears back, but it was all for show and he wouldn’t have hurt anyone. He absolutely lived for food, the greediest horse I have ever known, and loved being out in the field.”

    FischerRocana FST (retired in April 2021)

    FischerRocana has been retired following a stellar eventing career

    Breeding: Ituango xx x Carismo
    Age: 16
    Breeder: Mirko Glotz
    Rider: Michael Jung
    Owners: rider’s parents Brigitte and Joachim

    FishcerRocana FST won Kentucky five-star three times in a row in 2015, 2016 and 2017, was an individual silver and team gold medallist at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and an individual silver medallist at the 2017 Europeans.

    Michael explained he decided to retire the mare and breed from her when he realised the big events would be impacted by Covid again this year: “Because what else can she prove? I think my little fighter has shown more than enough what she can do, and just for something three- or four-star, she doesn’t have to keep running.”

    Samourai Du Thot (retired in March 2021)

    Julia KRAJEWSKI (GER) riding SAMOURAI DU THOT during the cross country phase of the FEI European Championships at Strzegom in Poland between 15 - 20th August 2017

    Breeding: Milor Landais x Flipper D’Elle
    Age: 15
    Breeder: Jean-Francois Noel
    Rider: Julia Krajewski
    Owner: DOKR (German Olympic equestrian committee)

    Samourai Du Thot won 18 international events, including the 2017 Luhmühlen CCI4* (now CCI5*) and took Olympic team silver in 2016. He was retired after losing an eye.

    Julia said: “He took me to my first five-star, my first Olympics, my first European team, won so much. No one thought that when he came. They asked if he could gallop enough, if he’d be good enough in the dressage. He turned out to be one of the fastest, most careful, most reliable horses.”

    Poggio II (died in February 2021)

    Poggio II put down - the horse who Amy Tryon rode at two Olympic Games has been put down

    Breeding: Polynesian Flyer x Toooverprime
    Age: 29
    Breeder: Thomas W Hunt
    Rider: Amy Tryon
    Owners: rider and Dr Mark Hart

    Poggio II won the world individual bronze medal in 2006 with US amateur rider Amy Tryon, a firefighter who subsequently died of an accidental overdose. The bay thoroughbred had a unique style – on seeing a fence he would hurl himself at it without giving his rider much say in the matter, but he was a careful, conscientious jumper. Their successes included third at Kentucky in 2002, world team gold the same year and Olympic team bronze in 2004.

    Amy’s husband Greg said the horse “astonished people left and right” as they couldn’t believe his results considering his conformation, movement and bad habits such as crib biting.

    “I prefer to remember the time in Ocala when an international showjumper walked up and offered a ‘blank check’ for him – the rider apparently sat and watched P jump into and out of his paddock all day long, just for the sheer joy of jumping,” he said.

    Pamero 4 (retired in January 2021)

    Pamero 4 Badminton withdrawals 2019

    Breeding: Perigueux x Perpignon
    Age: 14
    Breeder: Wilhelm Kappler
    Riders: Laura Collett and Gemma Tattersall
    Owner: Clive Smith

    Pamero 4 was produced up to five-star by Laura Collett, their good results including finishing third in the seven-year-old World Championships, before moving to Gemma Tattersall’s yard. He and Gemma were second at Pau five-star in 2018 as well as collecting six top-10 placings at three-star (now four-star).

    “He had endless, endless scope,” she said. “He could jump the biggest fences; five-star wasn’t really big enough for him, and the showjumping was never big enough! He was very genuine, and always an absolute gentleman on the ground, so kind and sweet and smiley. I never once saw him with his ears back.”

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