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Top small hunter dies

Ashcroft Fergus, the amateur produced small hunter, has been put down at the age of 20

Ashcroft Fergus, who took on the professionals giving them a run for their moneyand on occasions beating them, has been put down following complications arising from an old leg injury.

By Spitzbergen, he was originally bred to race. The 15.2hh chestnut gelding was sold at Beaulieu sales in Hants and had a succession of owners until Lisette-Marie Batchelor bought him after seeing him advertised in Horse & Hound magazine.

“Fergus” was produced entirely by Lisette, who juggled a full-time job as a sales rep with showing and looking afterhim at her Bournemouth home.

“I didn’t have a school, so I did most of my schooling on Canford Heath or occasionally hired a school,” said Lisette.

During his prolific career Fergus qualified for the Royal International Horse Show for five consecutive years. Among his notable wins were Kent County in 1993, when he beat the RIHS winner Cornish Sovereign and qualified for HOYS. He also won at Salisbury and was consistently placed at bigger shows, such as Newbury and Devon County.

Never happier than when the going in the show ring was deep, he was content to stride out and often outshone those around him, especially in wet conditions.

Described as “a gentleman to handle”, it surprised many judges that he was very strong to ride. He strained his deep flexor tendon in 1994 and although he recovered and returned to the show ring, he was retired in 1996.

Lisette continued to hack him out until last year when he broke down again after bolting. The decision was made to have Fergus put down after his tendon began to shorten and he was finding it increasingly difficult to extend the leg.

Speaking about her loss Lisette said: “He was wonderful to be around, a truly nice person. He will be greatly missed and impossible to replace.”

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