Francis Whittington has paid tribute to his “lovely, genuine” five-star ride Evento, who has been put down after developing serious arthritic changes in his neck.
The 11-year-old gelding was owned by Sarah Arrowsmith and had been produced by Francis since he was a four-year-old.
The Dutch dark bay was crowned British novice champion in 2016, finishing ninth in the young horse championships at Osberton the same year.
He established an excellent cross-country record at three-star and four-star and last year he tackled his first five-star at Burghley — producing a clear cross-country although the combination were later eliminated for jumping an additional obstacle.
Evento had his final run in the OI at Cornbury International last month, where Francis felt the horse wasn’t on his usual form.
“He came out of lockdown feeling so well and looking amazing but cross country I didn’t have my normal ride by any stretch,” Francis told H&H.
“Our vet Katie Preston came out and looked at him and she referred him to Andy Bathe at Rossdales. We thought he was going up there and they’d find a problem with a hock or a stifle but they narrowed it down to a form of arthritis impinging on the nerves in his neck. We were shocked.
“He has always been such a kind horse. The fact that he was trying so hard even though there was something going on shows what a lovely horse he was.
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“It’s been a sad time for all of us and especially his owner Sarah who loved him and has been such a great supporter,” he added.
“I was so proud of what he and Francis achieved and he had so much more to give,” said Sarah.
“He was the kindest horse we had, and will be huge shoes to fill. I am devastated for Francis and his son Max who adored him.”