‘A tsunami of emotions’: legendary showjumping stallion dies aged 31

  • The world-class showjumping stallion Diamant De Semilly has died aged 31.

    The Le Tot De Semilly son died on Tuesday (15 February) in his own field, where he was “enjoying a pampered retirement”.

    A spokesman for the Semilly Stud in France said even though Diamant was 31 and they knew they could expect the “inevitable separation” one day, the “emotional shock” remained the same.

    “Some pages of history are more difficult to turn than others, because this force of nature was not a horse like the others. He became a member of our family and our lives were deeply connected,” the spokesman said.

    Diamant De Semilly was an orphan foal as his mother Venise Des Cresies died following his birth. He had success as a young horse, qualifying for the French championships aged four, five and six.

    He won multiple grands prix during his career, and in 2002 was on the French team that won gold at the World Equestrian Games, with Eric Levallois – who formerly rode Le Tot De Semilly. Diamant was crowned French champion that year, and the following year he was part of the silver medal-winning team at the European Championships with Eric. In 2004 the pair were selected for the Athens Olympics, but Diamant was ruled out owing to injury. In 2008 he retired from competition to concentrate on stud duties, and the same year survived three colic surgeries.

    “So many memories in more than 30 years. A whirlwind of flashbacks break out like a tsunami of emotions… your first bottles, your charisma that set you apart from others, your victories, tears of happiness with gold at the Jerez World Equestrian Games. And then the moments suspended in breath during your three colic operations, then your coronation of best [showjumping] world stallion in 2015,” read Semilly Stud’s tribute.

    Diamant topped the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses showjumping sire rankings in 2015 and 2016, and last year he was second, behind Chacco-Blue. Among his offspring are countless horses who have dominated the showjumping and eventing worlds. Some of these include Tom McEwen’s Olympic team gold medal-winning ride Toledo De Kerser, Marcus Ehning’s retired star stallion Comme Il Faut, Scott Brash’s former grand prix ride Hello Guv’nor, and Don VHP Z, who took individual silver at the 2017 Europeans with Harrie Smolders.

    “You changed the destiny of our lives. You have also marked the lives of many people, breeders, riders, and owners who have been blessed to be able to appreciate your many qualities, in particular strength, courage and the will to do well,” said the Semilly Stud spokesman.

    “You have left your mark on the world of sport horses for all of that, thank you Diamant, for everything, you will always be in our hearts and history.”

    Eric added that Diamant enjoyed a “beautiful, well-deserved retirement until the end surrounded by a loving and caring team”.

    “I lost my horse, but above all my best friend. Goodbye Diamant,” he said.

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