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Badminton runner-up put down following ‘freak accident’

Cooley SRS, who was the 2018 Badminton Horse Trials runner-up with Oliver Townend before being sold later that year to Australia, was put down yesterday (13 October).

The 13-year-old Irish sport horse by Ramiro B, now known as Willinga Park Cooley, had been taking part in a cross-country schooling session with rider Hazel Shannon when the pair suffered a “freak accident” and the gelding was put down owing to his injuries.

“Hazel is currently in hospital with liver damage but is expected to make a full recovery. Aero suffered a fractured femur on the left hind,” read a statement by Heath Ryan of Ryan’s Horses, Hazel’s employer.

“Through the efforts of his owners Terry and Ginette Snow and our two main vets Peter Tabak and Robin Bell from the Sydney University, we searched the world for viable surgery procedures that could have perhaps rescued the situation. This was not to be.”

Hazel took on the ride of the gelding, bred by John Fitzhenry, after he was sold by his owner Angela Hislop to Terry in November 2018.

“Aero was bought for Hazel to ride after she won her third Adelaide five-star on Willinga Park Clifford. They were quietly working their way up to top competition level having competed at Canberra CCN4* two weeks earlier where they placed ninth,” said Heath.

“Yesterday was the final cross-country school before Camden CCI4* this weekend. The partnership was showing great promise.

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“We would like to say how sorry we are to Terry and Ginette, to Oliver, to everyone here at Ryan’s who were so excited about a new partnership flexing such talent on the Australian scene, to Hazel who is struggling with the difficult emotional repercussions and of course, to Aero, who was such a gentle and lovely character, who did nothing but try hard. We are all very sorry.”

Cooley SRS and Oliver finished a very close second to Jonelle Price and Classic Moet at the 2018 Badminton Horse Trials. The previous year they had been part of the British gold medal-winning team at the European Championships in Strzegom. They also finished ninth individually at the 2015 world championships for seven-year-olds in France, and were long-listed for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon.

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