‘The world was their oyster’: sad farewell to promising four-star event horse

Elite event riders Tom McEwen and Daisy Berkeley have paid tribute to Strike Smartly, a horse who “always had a smile on his face” who has had to be put down aged 12.

The grey Irish sport horse gelding died last weekend (6 January) as a result of complications caused by colic.

Tom, who rode “Paddy” to victory at Chatsworth CIC3* and Cappoquin CCI3* in 2017, as well as completing the horse’s first Badminton on 2018, described him as “one in a million, who would give his heart to everything he did, asking for nothing in return except his food”.

“Last year at his first Badminton he scored three 10s in his dressage and thoroughly enjoyed his cross-country round,” he said. “We are sure that he would have had a huge future in this amazing sport of eventing.

“He will leave a deep hole in Team McEwen. However, he will be even more acutely missed by his owner Penny Barker who rode him regularly and followed his successes with a passion.

“I feel privileged to have been allowed to ride such an amazing horse and the team were honoured to have looked after Paddy who was the most genuine, kind and honest person, we think we will ever meet. We are all heartbroken.”

Daisy, who had Paddy as a four-year-old and competed him up to three-star level until Tom took the reins in 2017, said the news was “devastating”.

“He had his life ahead of him,” she told H&H. “He was a wonderful character, with a terrific sense of humour; I’m heartbroken for Fred [Barker] and Penny because they loved him.”

Daisy said Paddy did not show vast talent as a five-year-old but “at six, he really started to show he could become something”. She praised his extravagant movement, and genuine nature, adding that although he was somewhat lacking in straightness as a youngster, “after that, he’d do everything he could to jump within the flags”.

Continues below…



“He was an absolute sweetie on the ground too,” she added. “He never had his ears back; always had a smile on his face, there wasn’t a bad bone in his body.

“Tom developed a really good relationship with him; he looked a million dollars with Tom,” she said. “The world was their oyster; who knows what they would have done.”

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.