Farewell to one of the quickest cross-country horses of his time, aged 30: ‘He was a family member’

  • Who’s Blitz, who was known as one of the fastest event horses of his generation, has been put down, aged 30.

    “He was sharp to ride and a proper character, but always a very good cross-country horse,” rider Dag Albert told H&H. “We had him for 27 years and he was very much a family member.”

    The Swedish team rider bought Blitz, an Irish sport horse by Silver Wonder, as a four-year-old from Ian Giles and Julie Pratt, who use the Who’s prefix for their horses.

    “I sold him, then got him back as he was too sharp,” said Dag, explaining that he then sold the horse to Hannah “Sparkles” Bailey (now Watson), who was working for him at the time.

    Sparkles competed the horse up to intermediate and paid tribute to him this week, saying: “I’m heartbroken to hear that my dear old friend Who’s Blitz is enjoying the green grass up high.

    “I was incredibly honoured to have owned, produced and competed this special boy for three wild years… as many times on the floor as rosettes! So much blood , sweat and tears were spilt over my adored pony. But I always knew you were destined for greater things than me.”

    Dag swapped Blitz for another horse with Sparkles and continued his career.

    The pair finished 19th and 17th at Badminton Horse Trials in 2006 and 2007 and represented Sweden at the Blenheim Europeans in 2005 and the World Equestrian Games in 2006 (finishing 14th individually), going clear inside the time on all four occasions.

    “He was very fast – he finished 40 seconds inside the time at Badminton one year and was first to go at the Blenheim Europeans, trotting through the finish line 12 seconds inside the time and everyone thought it was going to be easy,” said Dag.

    In fact, that was the fastest round of the day in wet conditions and only seven more pairs finished penalty-free.

    A tendon injury put paid to Who’s Blitz’s participation in the 2008 Olympics and he was retired after a brief comeback in 2010.

    “In retirement he had quite a few years hunting with the Meynell, until his mid-20s. He was a bit of a wild one, so I had to take my own line, but he would jump anything,” said Dag, who added that Blitz was also very good at leading his daughter Maja out hunting.

    “He was sharp to ride and I remember the first time my wife Liz rode him, she did 20 minutes’ flatwork and the next thing she knew, she was sat on the sand and he was back in his stable. He was a bit of an acrobat when he decided to have you off – like most of good the ones, he had a little bit of a quirk.

    “Even the year before he retired from hunting, one of the girls went out riding him and came back leading him. I knew he was ready for another season and when he stopped doing that I knew it’d be time to retire him. That was his trick but he always very good with the kids – they could lead and handle him, bring him in and groom him, up to his last day.”

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