Five-star winner dies: ‘A hyperactive little horse, who loved to run and jump’

  • Master Monarch, who won Kentucky in 2006 and was a world team bronze medallist with Andrew Hoy, has died, aged 29.

    “‘Ben’ gave us enormous pleasure and owed us nothing,” said horse’s owner, Tom Attwood. “For the last five years he has lived two miles from home, where he was very well looked after and cuddled. In his late 20s he was known to jump the local Pony Club jumps with my daughter and cart off my wife at will.”

    Master Monarch first came to prominence when ridden by Brook Staples, with whom he contested the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Although he tied up after the journey and so was not on his best form, he finished 16th individually there.

    Andrew Hoy took on the ride on Master Monarch in 2003 and the pair achieved an extraordinary run of good results, with some 20 top-12 placings at three- and four-star level (now four- and five-star). As well as their Kentucky 2006 win, they won three-stars at Marbach and Fontainebleau and finished third at Burghley (2007) and Badminton (2005).

    In his later years, Master Monarch gave experience to young rider Georgie Strang, with whom he finished ninth in the under-25s at Bramham in 2010.

    Andrew told H&H he remembered the Kentucky win as his particular highlight with Master Monarch: “Dressage was not his strongest phase, so it was important for me just to try and produce a very accurate test, for it to be as even as it could throughout and in good balance.

    “He was an exceptional horse cross-country. I had to be careful how I rode him, giving him good distances into fences as he was not a big horse and needed really good speed so he didn’t have to make a huge effort.

    “Going into showjumping we were sixth or seventh, but we were the last ones to jump a clear round. The leader had three fences in hand, but I ended up winning. It was a very special moment.”

    Andrew returned to Britain and rode Moonfleet to win Badminton the week after Kentucky.

    “It was an exceptional period in my career,” he said.

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    Andrew remembered Master Monarch as a “very hyperactive little horse”.

    He said: “He always wanted to do things very quickly and you had to try to milk every movement for the best possible mark in the dressage, so that was what we worked on the most, to try to find the best formula.

    “He loved to run and jump. At five-star, you had to be very precise in your take-off speed and the correct rhythm, as if you got those things wrong he wasn’t able to do it – there wasn’t much margin for error, but if you got it right, he was exceptional. He was a very quick-thinking horse and wonderful to work with.”

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