World Cup qualifier cross-country claims life of Catherston Defender


Halfway through the cross-country phase of the HSBC World Cup Qualifier at Tattersalls in Ireland, Catherston Defender fell at a water jump, breaking a foreleg.

Spectators reported that a bystander leaped to the aid of the rider, Italy’s Alberto Giugni, as the horse struggled to keep his head above water. The 13-year-old gelding was euthanised in the water in front of a large crowd.

The fence was removed from the competition by Technical Delegate Neil Clinton (AUS) and the Ground Jury, after the remaining riders demanded it be taken out. The timing was adjusted accordingly and all riders who had already jumped the fence had 4sec (1.6 penalties) taken off their times.

Hugh Lochore (GBR), the US-based course designer, described the course as a “balance of technical and attacking”, reminiscent of Ireland’s hunting tradition and with big bold fences set naturally in the hedge lines.  Mary King commented: “I thought it was refreshingly old-fashioned with natural fences — it felt like proper cross-country.”

The country had suffered a lot of rain, but after considerable work and commitment on the part of organiser George Mernagh and his team, although the course had some soft patches, the going was excellent and horses were finishing well. The track was little changed overall from last year, but Lochore said that he had “beefed up” some of the combinations and riders considered it an appropriately demanding test.

Catherston Defender, a British Warmblood by Dutch Gold and from Gertie, by the Thoroughbred stallion Xenocles, was 13 years old. He was owned by Gianfranco Giugni, and Alberto Giugni had ridden the horse since 2004. Dutch Gold, a grand prix dressage stallion, was a three-quarter Thoroughbred and quarter Gelderlander.

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