Two of the best-known chestnuts in eventing — 18-year-old Stunning and 17-year-old Coral Cove — are being retired this month.

Stunning’s owners, Jayne and George Apter, want the horse to finish his career on top form. His last event will be Thirlestane Castle in Scotland (21-22 August), to defend his 2003 title with William Fox-Pitt, his partner since 1999. He will then go to the Apters’ Buckinghamshire home, where he may do light dressage with Jayne.

The Apters bought Stunning in New Zealand when he was 11. The Thoroughbred, by Ring The Bell out of Stunning Star, had raced on the flat and show jumped. He has since clocked up 1,318 British Eventing (BE) points under Mark Todd and William Fox-Pitt, and more than £30,000 prize-money.

Stunning (pictured right) was on the gold medal-winning team with William at the European Championships at Pau in 2001. He won Gatcombe in 2003 and Blenheim in 2000, among other titles — his most recent being the CIC*** at Lulworth 2004.

William Fox-Pitt says: “Stunning is a real trier, very tough and has been sound throughout. Recently, he has been incredibly consistent and has grown to love the job, having suffered a loss of confidence before. He’s great fun to ride and has taught me a lot. He’ll leave a huge hole.”

George Apter says: “He is raring to go and probably still the fastest event horse in the world, but we wanted him to retire at the top. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

Coral Cove (picturd left), the former ride of the late Polly Phillipps who, after her death, was ridden to a fourth placing at Burghley by her husband, Vere Phillipps, was retired last week at the age of 17.

Having recorded a career total of almost 1,300 horse trials points, Coral Cove had just become a grade A show jumper. His final horse trials outing resulted in an advanced win at Eglinton in 2003, when he also won the Polly Phillipps Memorial Trophy.

A fantastically bold horse across county, Coral Cover will nevertheless be remembered by many as the horse at the centre of a doping affair in 1999.

“I want to remember him as a brilliant horse,” says Vere, “and he’s just starting to lose his scope a bit.”

Coral Cove may now go hunting with the Quorn.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (12 August)

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