‘He never, ever let me down’: much-loved British grand prix horse dies at home

  • One of the most popular grand prix horses on the British circuit has died, aged 15. Talented Mr Ripley, a Holsteiner gelding by Nekton, was owned and ridden by Cornwall-based Georgia Stokes, who trained him up the levels from novice to international grand prix. He died at home on Friday (17 July), after suffering peritonitis.

    “It was pretty horrific. On Wednesday last week he started eating again and we thought he was getting better, but then he went downhill fast,” Georgia told H&H.

    “I slept on a camp bed in his box for a week, and my vet was incredible and tried everything, but we just couldn’t stabilise him, and he was in such terrible pain.”

    One of Georgia’s most treasured memories of Ripley is their inter I victory at the Keysoe CDI3* in 2017.

    “I felt like I’d won the Olympics that day – I just cried and cried. It was such an incredible moment,” remembered Georgia.

    The pair stepped up to grand prix that same year, and have since earned numerous international top 10 placings both at home and abroad. In 2019 they made their Nations Cup team debut, representing Britain at the Uggerhalne CDIO4* in Denmark. Their final international competition was the Hartpury CDI in July 2019, where they finished eighth in the freestyle.

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    “He was just a total superstar. Getting picked for the Nations Cup team isn’t something I can even describe as a dream come true, because I never dreamt that could happen,” said Georgia. “He didn’t really have a weakness – his piaffe, passage and pirouettes were all amazing, and Carl Hester had helped us so much. Ripley had improved so much over the winter and through lockdown, and we were supposed to be running through the grand prix at Hartpury on the day he died.

    “He had such a big personality and he never, ever let me down. He always tried for me, even when I didn’t know what I was doing. I feel so proud that he was my boy – I loved him so much and never took him for granted. It’s just harrowing, to think about not seeing his little face again. He was such a dear horse – a Cornish legend!”

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