Final farewell to a championship eventer with a ‘heart of gold’

A four-star event horse with a “heart of gold” has been put down aged 14, less than three months after he was retired.

Grand Manoeuvre was put down on Thursday (26 July). The chestnut gelding, who was owned by Diana and David Chappell, completed Badminton three times, last in 2016 when he jumped double clear and finished 22nd. He was also 13th at the Blair European Championships, giving Laura Collett her first senior championship completion.

Laura said she was “totally devastated” by the loss of “Milo”.

“It was such a hard decision to make but ultimately it was quite black and white,” she told H&H.

“He picked up an injury in his hoof, which is why he was retired in April. Milo had always had odd feet, but we were always able to manage them.

“We hoped he would have a year off and then come back to do some low-level dressage as he needed to remain active to keep his brain happy. He had been turned out during the day, but his soundness didn’t improve.

“When the ground became hard due to the weather, we decided to put him on box rest for a month to six weeks as he had become increasingly sore. Unfortunately even on box rest he became more and more lame, so it became clear that the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep.”

Milo and Laura also achieved a number of top-10 three-star placings, the highest of which was in the CIC3* at Barbury in 2016 where they finished sixth. They were also long-listed for the Rio Olympics.

Reflecting on his stellar career, Laura said her two fondest memories of her time with Milo were their first Badminton as a combination and the Blair Europeans.

“He made Badminton feel like a BE100, and the weather conditions were so terribly wet at Blair and he battled for me — he had a heart of gold and I’ve never known a horse try so hard,” she said.

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Laura said Milo’s presence on the yard will be sorely missed.

“He always had a smile on his face — people who came on to the yard were always drawn to him. He was an absolute darling.”

Milo was originally produced by Nick Gauntlett, and was first seen competing as a five-year-old under Nick in 2009. The pair enjoyed several good results including a seventh place in the CCI3* at Blenheim in 2015 and 22nd place at the horse’s first four-star at Badminton in 2014, which also marked the last event Nick rode him at before Laura took over the reins.

Milo’s final run was in the 2017 Event Rider Masters Series at Blenheim last September, where he finished seventh.

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