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Top British showjumper in line for Tokyo Olympics put down age 11: ‘If only love could have saved you’

Holly Smith has paid tribute to her top ride Hearts Destiny, who has been put down aged 11.

“Ted”, who represented Britain at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, was on the bronze medal-winning British team at last year’s European Championships and looked set to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics, was put down yesterday (13 August).

Holly told H&H Ted had spent the last month in the equine clinic at Newmarket, having been diagnosed with PPID (formerly Cushing’s disease). He developed laminitis, and there was nothing that could be done to save him.

Holly said she noticed the first signs something was amiss at last summer’s Europeans, where the combination finished 10th individually.

Holly Smith’s top rider Hearts Destiny has been put down age 11.

“He hadn’t had the best coat for a while, then he got these funny swellings above his eyes,” she said. “I asked the vet out there but he didn’t really know. Then, when I was in Vilamoura, one of the girls at home said they’d filled up again so I googled it — and what I found made sense.

“We’d been managing it, but they develop tumours on the pituitary gland; his was a big, aggressive one and there was nothing they could do to save him.”

Holly took the reins on Ted in 2017, when he came into her life almost by accident. Holly had sold her top horse Dougie Douglas, and had some “good national horses” but broke her leg in a hunting fall and lost rides as a result.

Holly’s husband Graham’s twin brother Paul, who hunted with Ted’s breeder Steph Callwood, saw the horse in an inter-hunt relay at a county show. Steph asked if Holly had a lot of rides at the time, and after Paul said no, Steph dropped Ted off.

“Within 18 months, he was selected to go to a championship,” Holly said. “He just rocketed up.

“He gave me the confidence to know I could recover, and come back even better.

“He was the most lovely, reliable, sound horse I’ve ever come across.”

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Holly said Ted had his moments, such as a spook and leap when the band started playing after the Aga Khan Cup at the Dublin Horse Show, but in general, he was “a very quiet, easy character, who seemed to understand showjumping, and did everything I ever asked of him”.

“His last show was in Spain, before lockdown, and he won the three-star grand prix,” Holly said.

“He was something sent from somewhere, I don’t know where; Heaven.

“If only love and hope could have saved you. Thank you for everything Ted.”

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