‘Let’s remember him for how he lived’: heartbreak as prize-winning horse dies suddenly at World Cup Final

  • There was a devastating postscript to the second leg of the showjumping World Cup Finals when Chromatic BF, the third-placed horse, collapsed and died in the stables shortly afterwards.

    The FEI confirmed said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that the US horse Chromatic BF, ridden by Jill Humphrey, has passed away during the FEI World Cup Final.

    “Chromatic BF had returned to the stables after competition on the evening of 18 April and later unexpectedly collapsed. He was immediately attended to by the US Equestrian veterinary staff and FEI veterinarians but was unable to be resuscitated.”

    There will be a post-mortem in line with FEI veterinary regulations.

    “Tears of joy and tears of loss”

    Chromatic BF, who had produced a brilliant double clear with Jill Humphrey, in Thursday night’s jump-off class, was taken back to the stables after the prize-giving and lap of honour, where he was calm and settled. He was given “refreshment and a routine shot of electrolytes” by the US team vet and died in his stall. His owner-breeder Katharine Branscomb, who has had the 13-year-old since he was born, called for people to “remember him for how he lived, not how he died”.

    She wrote on Facebook: “I am writing this to try to clarify what has already begun to travel as rumours surrounding events that happened here in Riyadh involving Chromatic after tonight’s spectacular performance. After hacking normally after the class, Chromatic returned to the barn happy and calm attended by his lifetime caretaker Pepe Rodriguez and Jill. After resting and refreshment, he was given a routine recovery shot of electrolytes by the USET team veterinarian. Upon returning to his stable to be wrapped, blanketed, and put away for the evening, with me present (Kc Branscomb) the horse began seizured and collapsed in the stall. He was immediately treated and examined by both the USET and FEI veterinarians and was pronounced dead shortly after.

    “As owner and breeder, I want it clearly stated that no one was at fault. The horse did not suffer and there is no evidence that his passing was in any way related to his strenuous and spectacular performance with Jill well over an hour earlier or the routine injection by the veterinarian. A full autopsy report will be provided to me at some point. But what I HOPE people will take away from this freak accident and great tragedy is that it was a night of tears – tears of joy and tears of loss. If I would ask anything of those of you that knew or celebrated him, let’s remember him for how he lived and not for how he died.”

    Chromatic BF’s brilliant performance at World Cup Finals

    Chromatic BF, a black gelding by Connor, was looking like the breakout star of this jumping World Cup Finals. He had not had a pole down in the three rounds from the two classes so far, and last night found only Henrik von Eckermann’s King Edward and Peder Fredericson’s Catch Me Not S too good. He was lying equal fifth in the standings ahead of Saturday’s final class.

    Chromatic had only started competing internationally in the autumn of 2023 and enjoyed a meteoric rise up the ranks, having been previously ridden by Daniel Zilla and Branscomb Farms. Jill paid tribute to how well the gelding had been produced.

    “I feel so blessed to be able to ride him,” she said, straight after the competition. “He has obviously had a great upbringing so he was ready to compete at this level. I’ve only had the ride a year, and this was his fourth 1.60m class, so he is very impressive.”

    “His personality is so special, he’s such a love.”

    Tributes have poured in from Jill’s fellow riders and the US equestrian community

    Mcclain Ward wrote: “What an incredible story this horse and his people have shared to the top level of the sport. I have always thought Jill was a top rate rider and to see the success she’s had, combined with the genuine love for all the positive aspects of our sport and our life with horses from those around Chromatic is inspirational. All of our hearts break tonight with you and know the entire horse world is with you.”

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...