Oliver Townend has paid tribute to his first Badminton-winning ride Flint Curtis, who has been put down at the age of 22.
The grey gelding had enjoyed a long, healthy and happy retirement with his owner and breeder Edward Nicholson, who told H&H that Flint had been suffering from internal problems and despite vets’ best efforts, could not be saved.
By the Nicholsons’s stallion William Curtis, Flint was ridden by Alex Postolowsky, winning team silver at the young rider European Championships in 2004, then for a year by Izzy Taylor, before Oliver took the ride in 2006.
Oliver and Flint finished third at Badminton that year and 11th individually at the following year’s World Equestrian Games. They were also members of the gold medal-winning British team at the 2007 and 2009 European Championships.
Their Badminton win came in 2009, and Oliver told H&H this was fulfilment of a life-long ambition.
“He was simply one of my best friends ever,” he said. “I have already missed him every day since he left my home.
“Every eventing-obsessed child dreams of winning Badminton and Flint made my dreams come true.”
Mr Nicholson said all the horses by William Curtis were good, but that he knew Flint was special very early.
“I knew it when he was in a shed as a foal,” he said. “We had him here for a long time and gave him a good, steady start.”
Asked what it meant to him to win that Badminton, Mr Nicholson said: “I was clutching that trophy as if it was a baby! I think that gives an idea how I felt about it.
“Flint was always very much loved, and the public loved him too because he really looked the part. He had that proudness about him, and he knew when he’d won, and that he was good.
“He had a very happy retirement here, and been fit and well. He enjoyed being here as it was his home; he was born here.”
Oliver Townend lowered just one show jump on Flint Curtis at Badminton Horse Trials this afternoon to become the first
Before eventer Oliver Townend heads off to Normandy for this year's World Equestrian Games (WEG), we take a look back
Mr Nicholson continued: “My rider, Rachel Clark, took him out; the first thing she did was a local dressage show and we thought we’d better not do that again as he won, and I’m not sure people liked it!
“All the horses we’ve bred have had good temperaments, and Flint was perfect.”
The grey gelding amassed a total of 1494 British Eventing point during his career.
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