‘You are my living legend’: rider pays tribute to ‘little lioness’ as top mare retires aged 20

  • Suma’s Zorro, the exceptional mare partnered by Sameh El Dahan, has retired from showjumping “healthy, sound and fresh” aged 20.

    The little chestnut mare landed the sport’s richest prize in winning the 2018 $1million CP International presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows – having been entered following a premonition by her owner, Joanne Sloan-Allen.

    Sameh paid tribute to “the little lioness that could” on her official retirement at Balmoral Show (17 May). Her saddle was taken off in the ring, and she was presented with a garland of flowers to wear as crowds said farewell to this special mare.

    Sameh, who rode for Egypt before switching to compete for Britain in 2021, partnered Suma’s Zorro to many other grands prix victories across the world, including at the Paris leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour earlier that summer.

    They also competed at the World Equestrian Games in 2014 and 2018, and in total, the mare jumped close to 400 classes in an international career that spanned more than 11 years.

    Suma’s Zorro was bred at the Suma Stud in Co Kilkenny by Marily Power and Susan Lanigan O’Keeffe. Joanne and Sycamore Stables bought her as a foal.

    Sameh took on the ride when the mare was seven years old – Joanne had produced her to that point, and continued to compete the mare at times throughout the horse’s career.

    “Today a curtain closes on one of the most important chapters of my life, let alone my career,” he said on 17 May.

    “A little chestnut mare that I met 13 years ago and together we have achieved unimaginable things but it wasn’t just the success, it was always something more with Zorro, she always had my back and when the chips were down she always rose to the occasion and more.

    “I’m for ever grateful that I have met you. Today was your special day, a little tribute to how amazing you are, you are my living legend and I’m over the moon that you look the way you looked today at 20 years young, healthy sound and fresh.

    “Happy retirement Zooz. Enjoy your field days at Sycamore. Thank you for all the joy you gave us and will continue to give us just by being you.”

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