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Devastation as home-bred five-star winner dies; foal adopted by foster mare

Kings Temptress, the mare who won Kentucky 2011 with Mary King, was put down on Saturday (18 April) after suffering from peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers the abdominal organs) after giving birth to a foal. Her colt is now doing well with a foster mare.

“I am absolutely devastated to have lost her. I was so lucky to have bred such a wonderful mare, who gave so much to me and others through her life to the end,” said Mary.

Kings Temptress completed five four-stars (now five-stars) in her career, taking fourth on her debut at the level in Luhmühlen (2009) and finishing seventh (2010) and third (2011) at Burghley. But her career high came at Kentucky in 2011, which she won.

“She wasn’t an amazingly super-talented horse, but she was really genuine and tried her heart out,” Mary told H&H.

“Tess” was retired in 2015. She did her dressage at Badminton that year, but was lame when brought out for exercise on Saturday morning, which signalled some arthritic changes in her near hind.

Tess was the third horse Mary bred out of her foundation mare Kings Mistress and not the most obviously talented.

At the time of her retirement, Mary told H&H: “When I started jumping Kings Gem and Kings Fancy they were really neat and organised from the start. When I started jumping Tess, she really couldn’t do it and I thought, ‘What have I bred?’

“But when she got to intermediate level she started to learn to get high enough and she went on to become really confident. It’s amazing she did what she did. Her two older sisters both reached four-star, but she’s the one who won one.”

When Tess was seven Mary wanted to keep the ride but needed to sell her to fund the building of her new house. Derek Baden, who had supported Mary for a number of years, bought the horse and a syndicate of six people called The Mares Team came on board to help with her running costs. When Tess retired, Derek gave her back to Mary to use for breeding.

Tess had eight foals in total, with five produced by embryo transfer while she was competing, including King Robert who was eighth in the CCI4*-S at Tattersalls last year with Mary.

When Tess fell ill after giving birth to Vinnie on Friday, Mary posted on her Facebook page that she needed a foster mare and the post was shared 5,400 times.

“It was a lovely feeling that so many people want to support you,” said Mary, adding that the post had been viewed over 300,000 times.

Mary drove Vinnie from Devon to Warwickshire where he was adopted by “lovely foster mare” Wendy, who had had a stillborn foal at Lazy Acres Stables, the yard of Naomi Franklin, aunt of five-star rider Sarah Olivier (née Stretton).

Vinnie is by Van Gogh – as the painter’s Christian name was Vincent, his full name is King Vincent.

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“A huge thank you to the wonderful response from my Facebook followers who led me to the Franklins’ foster mare. A massive thanks also to Pat Ormond [of College View Stud, a friend of the Franklins] who made the fostering process go incredibly smoothly, and to my vets Stringer Equine for all their support,” said Mary, who also paid tribute to Johanna Vardon of the National Foaling Bank for her help.

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