William Fox-Pitt’s Tamarillo dies at 23

Tamarillo and William Fox-Pitt.
Tamarillo and William Fox-Pitt. © Biddeston Stud

Old age has caught up with leading British eventing horse Tamarillo, who has been euthanised at the age of 23.

The 2004 Badminton winner was ridden for most of his career by William Fox-Pitt, who took over the ride in 1999 from Diana Burgess.

William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo winning Burgley in 2008.
William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo winning Burgley in 2008. © Horsesports Photographic

The combination hit the ground running, winning the 2* at Blarney in 2000, and then finishing second at Blenheim that year.

In 2002 he was runner-up at Badminton, and that performance secured him a place in the team that won bronze in the World Equestrian Games in Jerez that year. In 2004 he fulfilled Fox-Pitt’s lifetime ambition by winning Badminton, and went on to compete at the Athens Olympics in the same year. In 2005 he was second at Badminton again, and went to Blenheim for the Europeans, where he won individual silver and team gold.

The anglo arabian gelding (Tarnik x Mellita [Master Spiritus]) was bred by the Guinness family at the Biddesden Stud in Hampshire. He was foaled by Jo Richardson who followed his career closely.

In 2006 Tamarillo represented Britain for the final time at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, and was part of the team that won silver. He rounded off his stellar career in 2008 with an emotional win at Burghley. He earned 1636 British Eventing points, and was one of the world’s most successful eventing horses, and his huge personality came through in his performances earning him fans worldwide.

Tamarillo was retired in 2011 at the age of 19 in a ceremony at the Badminton Horse Trials.

He has spent a long and happy retirement under the watchful eye of Jackie Potts – who travelled with him to every major championship.

Fox-Pitt said everyone at his yard would greatly miss Tamarillo. “He had an incredible presence, he was one in a million and I feel very lucky to have partnered him for all those special years.”

Tamarillo's clone Tomatillo.
Tamarillo’s clone Tomatillo. © Biddeston Stud

Yogi Breisner, World Class Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe to the British Eventing team, said: “Tamarillo was a great character and one of the most talented horses I was fortunate enough to come across. He had a fantastic record and was a major contributor to several medals for the British Team. I know he had a very happy retirement and will be sorely missed, but we all have the wonderful memories of his incredible career.”

Tamarillo’s breeders MW and Finn Guinness, wished they could have bred from the horse, and tried to breed a full sibling to Tamarillo, but his dam, Mellita, died. This led to the cloning of Tamarillo in the US in 2013.

The Guinnesses said they hoped the resulting clone, named Tomatillo, would become a breeding stallion at Biddesden.

The four generations of mares on Tamarillo’s damline were all bred at Biddesden Stud. The stud has bred anglo-arabians for many years, and two of the stud’s foundation mares, Starilla and Dafinetta, came to Biddesden from Crabbet Park in 1939, when the stud was established.


Tomatillo. © Biddeston Stud




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