‘He was king of the yard’: farewell to international grand prix dressage stallion

  • Tributes have been paid to the international grand prix dressage stallion Bayford Hall Dallaglio, who has been put down aged 22.

    Dan Sheriff bought the Laurentianer x Potsdam stallion, known as “Lawrence” from Lisa McApline in 2003, on the day England won the rugby world cup.

    “I thought how fabulous it would be in future to hear the announcement ‘And now we have Daniel Sherriff for Great Britain riding Lawrence Dallaglio’. Sadly, that never happened but it was very amusing in our international days to hear European announcers trying to pronounce Dallaglio!” said Dan.

    “Unbeknown to me Lawrence’s breeding was a blend of Trakehner and Laurie’s Crusader. It was not something I would go for in a million years now. But then, we just connected and I knew we would go far as a combination.

    “I have to thank David Hunt for those early years teaching me how to break through with this young, highly intelligent and wonderfully trainable young horse as that gave me the foundation to be the rider and trainer I am today.”

    Dan and Lawrence’s first major win came in 2005; the six-year-old title at the British Young Horse Championships on 89%. They went on to be placed at the British Dressage national championships every year until Lawrence’s retirement aged 17.

    “My first memorable win at big tour with Lawrence was the Wellington premier league in 2010 in the grand prix freestyle with Jill Day’s ‘Marmite’ music. You had to be there to understand the judges’ reactions, they loved it or absolutely hated it,” said Dan.

    In the combination’s first international season that year, Dan and Lawrence were sixth in the CDI3* at Hickstead in July on day one and following this success, international rider and Dressage at Hickstead founder Dane Rawlins suggested the pair switch to the five-star group for the remainder of the competition. They were eighth in the CDI5* grand prix, and seventh in the special.

    “I was advised by various people not to do it in the face of strong, established competition but we did – and we were placed in the final,” Dan said.

    Dan also recalled an occasion at Hickstead when he saw artist Sally Martin painting a horse.

    “I did a double-take, went back to Sally and said ‘that’s my horse’ which indeed it was. My mum subsequently bought Sally’s fabulous painting, which hangs in pride of place above the fireplace, for my 40th birthday,” said Dan.

    Dan and Lawrence were named reserves for the London 2012 Olympics, for which Dan said he “is massively grateful”. The pair also enjoyed much success competing internationally across Europe with wins in Pompadour, Vierzon and Compiegne.

    “Lawrence was a horse who never failed to amuse and surprise. During our international tours the biggest worry was never the travel or the competition, it was the trot-ups. He was known for escaping during a trot-up and was lost both in Saumur and Hickstead due to his high-stepping, rearing and stallion antics. So we led the way in using a double bridle and always wearing a hard hat in a trot-up years before it was the norm,” said Dan.

    “He was a superstar to me. At one point we were in the top 30 of the world rankings. He got me on to teams at the 2013 Vidauban CDI and Rotterdam in 2014, and introduced me to so many fabulous places and people.”

    Lawrence went on to represent Iran under Litta Soheila Sohi in 2015 until his retirement in 2016. Recently the stallion had been suffering from laminitis and owing to the severity of the condition, the decision was made to put him down to end his suffering.

    “In retirement he enjoyed being a schoolmaster for some hand-picked special people, always excited to be in the arena and to show off to anyone watching,” said Dan.

    “While his conformation was A-level his brain was PhD, he was an incredibly intelligent horse who was quick to learn, patient and very trusting. He was king of the yard and commanded respect from his stable mates, eating was his favourite thing. You never saw him lying down, his head was always out of the stable window rain, snow or shine – checking that everything was in order. He was kind and gentle with his human servants and everybody adored him.”

    Dan added that he would always remember Lawrence as “the high-kicking ‘big spender’ from our musical mash-up of Sweet Charity and Mack & Mabel that took us to so many memorable grand prix freestyle wins across Europe”, as well as his lines of 70 tempi changes across the arena, round a circle and back.

    “Happy skipping in horse heaven, my pal,” he said.

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