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‘I’ve lost my old friend’ — Farewell to Hickstead Derby hero Mondriaan

Mondriaan, the wonderful bay gelding who took William Funnell to three Hickstead Derby victories, has been put down at the age of 25.

Julie Slade’s Dutch-bred gelding, known at home as “Danny”, had spent the last few years of his retirement at the home of one of William’s greatest supporters, Denise Stamp.

“He was still happy enough in himself, but he was struggling with his legs and on painkillers,” William told H&H. “I owed it to him to make sure he wasn’t in pain any more.

“I held him while he was put to sleep and it was all very peaceful. He is now buried under a tree on Denise’s farm.”

William Funnell and Cortaflex Mondriaan

William and Mondriaan forged a phenomenal career in their 12 years together in the competition arena. The gelding was best known as an outstanding Derby horse, winning Hickstead’s flagship event in 2006, 2008 and 2009, as well as the equivalent classes at Falsterbo and Eindhoven. But among his other illustrious accolades came victory in the prestigious Foxhunter final in 2001, the Cock o’the North and the pair represented Great Britain in Nations Cups and the European Championships.

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Mondriaan was retired from competition, having earned nearly £250,000 in prize-money, in an emotional ceremony in the international arena at Hickstead in 2011.

“He became a huge part of our lives and I expect I will always be remembered for the career I had with him,” said William, who acquired the son of Topas x Burggraaf as a five-year-old.

“He was so honest, so genuine and I don’t think he ever thought about stopping or doing anything other than what you asked of him.

“I’ve lost my old friend.”

You can read William Funnell’s full tribute to Mondriaan in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 19 September.

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