De Novo News, the horse who was part of the British silver medal-winning eventing team at last year’s World Equestrian Games with Tina Cook, is fighting for his life in Newmarket Equine Hospital.
The 12-year-old competed at Strzegom, Poland, with Tina in June and on his return home she felt he was a little quiet. It turned out he had contracted travel sickness, which turned into pleuropneumonia.
“It’s very unusual,” said Tina. “We did everything properly and broke up the journey — we stopped at Tim Lips’ place in Holland for a couple of hours. The other two horses I had on the lorry, Calvino II and Billy The Red, are fine.”
The horse, who has been in the hospital for about a month, has fluid in his chest cavity. While this can sometimes be drained — he had two litres taken out last week — an abscess has also formed at the top of the chest cavity under the shoulder blades. This is not a site which can be operated on.
De Novo News is on strong antibiotics and the abscess may disperse over a matter of months, but it could rupture, poisoning his whole system.
“When he went in he was given a 10% chance of survival, but he’s really battling it and is still alive,” said Tina. “But he could still die — every day I dread the phone ringing. Also, he could have a reaction to being on antibiotics for so long.”
Tina, who is competing at Burghley this week on Star Witness, said this is like a repetition of the situation when her 2009 European champion Miners Frolic fell ill with colitis and nearly died in 2011. He recovered and went on to win a team silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Tina bred De Novo News — he is by Last News and she rode his dam Douce De Longvaut round Burghley when she was in-foal with him. He is now part-owned by Jim Chromiak.
The pair fell in The Lake at Badminton this spring, but returned with 15th in the CIC3* at Bramham. They were named third reserves for the British squad for the European Eventing Championships at Blair next week before the horse fell ill.