Farewell to horse who won individual Olympic medal and was placed at Badminton

  • McKinlaigh, who won the individual silver medal at the 2008 Olympics, has died at the age of 26.

    The big chestnut Irish sport horse was ridden by the USA’s Gina Miles and owned by Thom Schulz and Laura Coats.

    Chris and Sue Ryan bought McKinlaigh as a three-year-old at Goresbridge and produced him until he was spotted by Thom and Laura in a five-year-old young event horse class at Punchestown and they bought him for Gina to ride.

    The son of Highland King was 11th at his first Kentucky in 2002, which led to selection for the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, where Gina and McKinlaigh finished 25th as individuals while their compatriots won the team gold for the USA.

    A year later, McKinlaigh repeated his 11th at Kentucky and the same year they finished third in the World Cup Final at Pau. They also competed successfully in Britain, landing 10th in the World Cup qualifier at Thirlestane Castle in Scotland in 2003 and four years later, finishing 15th on their sole Badminton appearance. They won five times at CIC3* level (now CCI4*-S) in the USA.

    In 2007, Gina and McKinlaigh scooped the individual bronze at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, completing a US clean sweep of the podium with the gold taken by Karen O’Connor on the diminutive Theodore O’Connor and silver by Phillip Dutton on Truluck. They also took team gold.

    McKinlaigh’s final appearance on British soil was when he took 22nd at Barbury in the build-up to the 2008 Olympics.

    At the Games in Hong Kong, he was 10th after dressage but rose through the ranks when 16.8 time-faults proved to be one of the faster cross-country rounds. The pair were equal fifth overnight with Mary King and Call Again Cavalier and a showjumping clear gave the US combination the individual silver. Their medal was the bright spot in an otherwise unremarkable US showing which netted them team seventh.

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    McKinlaigh retired after the 2008 Olympics and lived out his remaining years with his owners in California.

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