Top coloured stallion dies: owner pays tribute to her ‘horse in a million’

  • The owner of advanced dressage stallion Stanhopes Diddicoy, whose offspring have achieved success on four continents, has paid tribute to her “horse in a million”.

    Lady Harrington’s versatile skewbald suffered a suspected heart attack last Wednesday (16 August) at the age of 27. He had been on the gallops the previous day with trainer Louisa Carberry, Lady Harrington’s niece, for whom he had been a trainer’s hack in France for the last four years.

    Lady Harrington had owned German-bred Diddicoy since he was a yearling.

    “My husband challenged me to make him into a dressage horse,” she told H&H.

    “He wanted me to stop eventing as he said I was getting too old and he said I could only have Diddicoy on that condition!

    “When I saw him, I couldn’t have let him go for anything, he was magnificent, even as a yearling.

    “He was such a charismatic horse, he had the look of eagles about him.”

    Lady Harrington competed the stallion to advanced medium level, but he went on to compete at intermediaire and was placed internationally at prix st georges.

    He also showjumped successfully and won multiple showing championships including Royal Windsor, Hickstead and the Great Yorkshire Show.

    “He was always a working stallion,” Lady Harrington said. “I’d never had a stallion, it was a steep learning curve, but he had the most golden temperament; he was completely able to do both jobs.

    “We had no idea what it would be like but he was brilliant. He did everything.”

    Diddicoy was a prolific sire; his offspring include advanced eventer and US young rider gold medallist Peter Shambles, New Zealand showing champion Stanhopes Magician and multiple Horse of the Year Show victor Stanhopes Dueka, among many other successful sport horses.

    “His legacy is absolutely enormous,” Lady Harrington said.

    “It’s impossible to sum him up. Occasionally you’re lucky enough to have a very special relationship like that with a horse.

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    “He’d been on the gallops the day before he died – he would stand there and when he got excited, offer a bit of piaffe – and he was sound as a bell. If he had to go out, it was a good way for him to choose.

    “I was very lucky to have him, truly privileged. He was a horse in a million.”

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