Tributes paid to ‘absolutely fabulous’ Nations Cup-winning eventer

  • Event rider and Horse & Hound blogger Nana Dalton has paid tribute to a “horse of a lifetime”.

    Abbeylara Prince (Abs) suffered a fatal injury at Tweseldown on 22 May.

    The 11-year-old, owned by Magaret Peet, was a “gentle, loving and generous” horse.

    “Abs was more commonly referred to as Ab Fab Mr Abs because he was quite simply, absolutely fabulous,” said Nana.

    “It feels a cruel blow and will take time to process this real sadness and loss.”

    Abs was bought as a five-year-old from Charlotte and Kieran Crumley.

    “The plan was for me to compete him for a bit and then he would go to Margaret’s daughter Emily to do juniors on,” said Nana.

    “However he had quite a growth spurt, physically and in his character, so Margaret very generously decided he should stay with me permanently to event and bought another horse for Emily.

    “Charlotte did a superb job in producing him. In the 10 events she did with him he was double clear every single time.”

    Nana and Abs won three novices in their first season together and went on to achieve international success.

    “Throughout his career, the only times he wasn’t placed was when I took him steadily cross-country,” said Nana.

    “In all the eight three-stars he competed in, he only had one showjump down, which was my fault, and was clear cross-country every time we ran.

    “As well as being supremely talented, he was such a kind, gentle, loving and generous horse.

    “The bond he had with my son Toby, from a baby up until now has always been magic and something to behold.

    “Professionally, he has taken us to places we can only ever dream of and strive all our life to get to.”

    In 2015, Nana and Abs were placed sixth at Saumur CCI3*, which led to him being a reserve for the European Championships at Blair and long-listed for the Rio Olympics.

    The pair were also selected to represent Britain at the Nations Cup at Waregem, Belgium, in September 2015.

    “We were first to go and won,” said Nana. “Stood at the prizegiving with the national anthem being played for us was one of the proudest moments of my life.

    “The cruel double-edged sword meant that at the same time he netted a career highlight, he also sustained an injury.

    “The wonderful team at The Liphook Equine Hospital especially our utterly brilliant vet, Stuart Duncan have looked after him ensuring he’s always had the best care and treatment.

    “Our fabulous team at the yard backed this up by being meticulous in his management, further ensuring he had the best possible rehabilitation and all of us couldn’t have been happier with his recovery. As with everything in his life, he was always a perfect patient.”

    Nana said that it has been “awesome” having Abs back eventing this year.

    “He proved that he had lost none of his talent, form or sheer love for the sport,” she said.

    “Although we had planned to go to Badminton this spring, we decided that we’d be patient and postpone doing a three-day-event until autumn.

    “On Sunday (21 May) we took him to Rockingham, but as the ground was a bit tacky, we made the decision not to run and rerouted last minute to Tweseldown the following day, where the course and the ground was perfect.

    “Ab Fab felt his usual absolutely fantastic self, but half way around the course his tendon ruptured badly — ironically in a different place to the original injury.

    “Margaret and I can’t thank Rachel Faulkner and her fantastic team at Tweseldown enough for all that they did to help him and us.

    Continued below…

    “A situation we all dread ever having to deal with was made a fraction easier by being local and with great people around.

    “It was also poignant and a comfort to Magaret and myself that my lovely former groom Candice Dunlop was at Tweseldown and ran over to help — she has been a big part in his life so I am so glad she was able to say goodbye to him.

    “My biggest thoughts and feelings go out to Margaret though. She’s been the most incredible owner and has always ensured that her super special boy never wanted for anything.

    “The highs were exceptional and shared moments that I’ll cherish forever but even in the low times she has always been unwavering in her loyalty and support of me.”

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