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‘Horse of a lifetime’ who completed six Burghleys in a row put down

Clare Lewis’s consistent top-level campaigner Sidnificant was put down last Thursday (6 August) at the age of 21.

The son of No Complaints had a 100% completion record on his nine British four-star (now five-star) starts, finishing three Badmintons and an incredible six Burghleys in a row between 2009 and 2014. His best placing was 15th at Burghley 2012.

Clare Lewis and Sidnificant at Burghley, where they competed and completed six years in a row. Picture by trevor-meeks-photography.co.uk

Clare first set eyes on Sidnificant as a hairy two-year-old, owned by Steven Gee, who had sold another top horse to Clare in Park Pageboy. While Steven told Clare he had her next top ride, she wasn’t entirely convinced.

Sid ended up in Clare’s yard for a trial despite failing the vetting and an unusual action in front which put Clare off, but she decided not to make an offer for him. Steven suggested she try to sell the horse from her yard, but no one was interested in him and Clare ended up buying him for a small fee.

Although Sid’s action improved as he became stronger, the dressage was always his weakest phase. But he was a phenomenal jumper, which was reflected in his outstanding record at the top level – on four of his six Burghley completions he achieved a double jumping clear. Sid’s three Badminton finishes also included the 2014 when the wet going and tough cross-country meant only 32 of the 83 starters completed.

Clare remembers one occasion when the duo were flying around the Burghley cross-country, en route to Capability’s Cutting. She hadn’t slowed him enough on the approach, resulting in a huge leap down into the road, which vaulted her out of the saddle and left her clinging round his neck. With just one stride before the next fence, Sid flew it, with Claire hanging down his side, and he continued to gallop on while Clare wriggled her way back into the saddle.

“There were always two of us looking for a stride,” remembers Clare, who turned down substantial offers from nations who wanted Sid as a potential Olympic horse.

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In the build-up to Badminton 2015, Clare felt changes in Sid and veterinary investigation revealed problems in his sacroiliac joint. He was withdrawn from the event and retired.

Sid lived out his six years of retirement with Clare, enjoying daily exercise and the odd day’s hunting as a treat. Carefully chosen friends of Clare’s were able to enjoy this “wonderfully behaved animal” who was Clare’s “horse of a lifetime”.

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