Fabulous four-star campaigner put down: ‘He was brave as a lion and made it so easy’

Barry’s Best, the consistent four-star performer ridden and owned by Rosie Thomas, was put down last Sunday (16 December), aged 24.

“He suffered a neurological problem and couldn’t get up — his hind legs just didn’t operate,” said Rosie. “There was no thrashing around or anything, he knew what was happening.”

Barry’s Best will be remembered for his phenomenal cross-country performances. He was Rosie’s first and only four-star horse, but the pair were frequently compared to the top-flight combinations.

The pair completed Burghley five times — three of them with cross-country clears inside the time — Badminton four times and Luhmühlen once. Their best placings were ninth (2009, pictured) and 13th (2008) at Burghley. In 2008, they acted as pathfinders and Rosie said that was her favourite memory of the chestnut.

“He went round inside the time and made it look and feel easy, then there was so much trouble afterwards,” she said. “Across country he would always try for you and look for the flags. He was as brave as a lion and if I’d asked him to jump off a cliff I think he would have without questioning it.

“Because of him I went to some incredible places and it was like a dream come true and a privilege to be up there with all the top riders in the world.”

Barry’s Best joined Rosie as a four-year-old to be broken in.

“He was tricky and nervous so it took us a while to break him, but once he got confident with me on top he would try and do absolutely everything for you,” said Rosie. “He was a perfect gentleman to look after, you couldn’t fault him.”

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He retired from top-level competition with Rosie at the end of 2013, but stayed in her yard and Susannah Watts, the teenage daughter of one of Rosie’s owners, Nicky Cooper, took him eventing up to intermediate and one-star level. In the past couple of years Barry’s Best also enjoyed winning veteran and riding horse classes at local shows.

“He had clean legs and looked amazing. I took him autumn hunting this year and he was in work right up to the end,” said Rosie.

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