Tamarillo: event horse

Tamarillo: event horse fact file

Born in: 1992
Height: 16.2hh
Breed: Anglo Arab
Sire: Tarnik
Dam: Mellita
Owner: The Hon. Mrs Mary Guinness
Total BE points: 1636
Died: 28 July 2015

Finn Guinness bred Tamarillo out of his wife Mary’s eventing mare Mellita, who won an intermediate with Lucinda Green.

Tamarillo’s sire Tarnik was a thoroughbred Polish endurance stallion, who was 23% Arab and won the 26-mile Arab Horse Society Marathon.

He started his eventing career under Mrs Diana Burgess in 1997, when he was placed fifth in a pre-novice section at Tweseldown. Diana evented him up to intermediate level, before William Fox-Pitt took over the ride in 1999, after a lucky suggestion by Mark Todd.

William speaks highly of the horse, but freely admits he was no easy ride: “He could be everything all at once — spooky, lazy, sharp, exuberant, sensitive. He was extraordinary and unique.”

The new combination was placed second at their first event, before notching up two novice wins in their first season together.

The year 2000 saw Tamarillo win his first three-day event, when he took the CCI** at Blarney Castle with just 4.8 time-penalties added to a dressage score of 39.8. This same year, Tamarillo upgraded to advanced level and finished the season with a second place at Blenheim CCI***.

Tamarillo won medals at an Olympic Games (2004), two World Equestrian Games (2002, 2006) and a European Eventing Championships (2005). He has also won both Badminton and Burghley — an impressive feat for any event horse.

An eventing personality in his own right, Tamarillo was certainly one of the most successful, and quirky, equine stars.

“His personality has been both his gift and his Achilles heel,” says William. “He’s probably one of the most talented athletes the eventing world has ever seen, but his career has been one of great highs littered with ‘what ifs’.”

Tamarillo was retired from eventing at the end of 2009 after a reoccurrence of an old leg injury.

In 2011 fans paid tribute to this exceptional horse at Badminton, when he was officially retired from competition.

He lived out his retirement at William’s Dorset yard under the care of his head girl Jackie Potts. He was put down in late July 2015, aged 23, when old age caught up with him.

In 2013 a clone of Tamarillo was born in San Antonio, New Mexico. Named Tomatillo, the colt is now back at Biddesden Stud, on the border of Hampshire and Wiltshire, and is standing at stud to a select group of mares during 2016.

Tamarillo’s major successes

  • 1st at Burghley CCI**** in 2008
  • Team silver at the World Equestrian Games, Aachen in 2006
  • Team gold and individual silver at Blenheim European Eventing Championships in 2005
  • 1st at Badminton CCI**** in 2004
  • Team silver at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004
  • 2nd at Badminton CCI**** in 2002
  • Team bronze at World Equestrian Games, Jerez, Spain in 2002
  • 2nd at Blenheim CCI*** in 2000
  • 1st at Blarney Castle CCI** in 2000