‘The horse with the biggest heart’: Olympic eventer bows out aged 15 after injury

  • Phillip Dutton said he will “never have a horse with a bigger heart” than Z, his Olympic ride who is retiring at the age of 15.

    The US eventer said it was with “a lot of sadness” that he announced the retirement of his long-term partner, who was injured at Pau horse trials last month.

    “His rehab and recovery will be extensive,” he said. “At 15 years old, it would not be in Z’s best interest to try to bring him back to the level of fitness and training needed for the international level. He will get all the medical attention and rehab that he needs to set him up for the next, easier chapter in his life.”

    Phillip said Z came to him near the end of his six-year-old year, quickly moving up the levels and becoming “such a reliable part of our team”.

    During the next nine years, Phillip and Z won at three-star level, including the test event for the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG). They represented the US at those championships, finishing 13th individually, and at the Tokyo Olympics, where the team finished sixth.

    Their other top-level results include fourth at Maryland 5 Star in 2022, when they also completed Badminton, and being on the team that won silver at the Aachen Nations Cup this summer, as well as top-10 finishes at the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*.

    “Z is an incredible athlete who always gave his all,” Phillip said. “Sometimes he gave too much, as many of you witnessed us before the start box!

    “I would like to firstly thank Carol Gee who flew with me to Portugal to try Z as a six-year-old and also Duarte Seabra, who produced him. I want to thank as well his loyal owners: Tom Tierney, Suzanne Lacy, Annie Jones, Caroline Moran, and Dave and Patricia Vos. We couldn’t have asked to have a more fun and understanding partnership to ride for.

    “Big thank you as well go out to his vet, Dr. Kevin Keane; his farrier, T R Serio and his grooms, Emma Ford, Sidnee Ledyard and Grace Harris. I would also like to thank the many coaches who guided us throughout his career.

    “I will never have a horse with a bigger heart!”

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