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‘Fly high, big man’: legendary showjumping stallion Arko dies aged 27

The legendary showjumping stallion Arko III has died at the age of 27.

The son of Argentinius, who with Nick Skelton represented Britain at the 2004 Athens Olympics (pictured) and the 2005 European Championships, died today (20 January) at Shaw Farm Stud, home of his long-term owners the Hales family.

Nick and Arko won top-class grands prix across the globe, including the world’s richest class, the CN International at Spruce Meadows, and jumped numerous Nations Cup double clears. He won £1.2m before his retirement from the sport in 2008.

Nick has always credited Arko as the horse who brought him back into the sport after he broke his neck in a riding accident.

He told H&H: “Arko was a great horse for me and won some of the great grands prix of the world.

“But most of all he was the one that got me back riding again after I was told I would never ride again and that I will be for ever grateful to him for. He was a great character as well, always happy in the yard, and watched everything that was going on.

“I’m glad he had a long and happy retirement.”

Lisa Hales said today was the saddest the stud had known.

“We have so much to thank him for, he really was a horse of a lifetime,” she said.

“At the moment all our hearts are broken but we have so many happy memories. Fly high, big man, you will live on in your offspring.”

Continues below.


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Arko has sired top-class progeny including John Whitaker’s top ride Argento and the Hales family’s SFS Aristo, who has enjoyed much success with Ireland’s Anthony Condon.

Arko retired from stud in autumn 2019, aged 25, an occasion marked by a party, prosecco, cake and balloons.

“He has so many fans and he’s been an absolute pleasure to have on the yard,” said the stud’s Katie Norris at the time.

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