The final day of the weekend’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials marked the official retirement ceremony of 2013 winner Clifton Promise.
His rider, Jonathan Paget, Paget took off his saddle for the last time and with owner Frances Stead put a Badminton cover on the horse.
“Promise means everything to me,” Paget said. “He gave me my first wins at every level, took me to my first Olympics, won my first medal, and to World Champs where we finished seventh. We have travelled the world together and done all these big events over the past nine years.”
He was also the horse on whom Paget won Burghley in 2013, only to have the title stripped after a positive test for reserpine. It was later found that supplement contamination was to blame.
Owned by Stead since 2002 and ridden by Paget since September 2007, the two have always said they would retire Promise at the first sign he was no longer enjoying his work quite as much.
And that sign appeared at the recent couple of Badminton warm-up events where Paget felt Promise didn’t feel the same way he had in the past.
“It’s important we retire him a day early rather than a day late,” Paget said.
Stead said it had been a “true privilege” to have owned such an exceptional horse.
“I fell in love with him when I first saw him as a three-year-old and love him even more now he is 18. I always knew he would be a champion but his generosity of nature has allowed him to achieve at an even higher level than I expected.”
Of his younger days, Stead said: “He was like a lanky teenage boy with long legs and no control over them, so I have no idea why anyone even bothered trialling him on the racetrack.
“However, he was clearly going to make a great athlete and had an extremely generous eye. I knew he would need plenty of time to develop but was going to be an absolute superstar,” she said.
“People often say to me how lucky Jock is to have the ride on Clifton Promise and I always answer the same way: Promise is just as lucky to have Jock as Jock is to have Promise. They have both worked incredibly hard to form a great partnership and bring out the best of each other. After all, they are both tall, dark and extremely handsome. They both have an amazing work ethic and are prefect gentlemen at all times. They really were made for each other.”
The horse will stay with Paget at his yard in Wiltshire.
“I will take great pleasure in watching him in the paddock and riding him at home,” Paget said.
Clifton Promise is by Engagement (by Alydar) and out of Darn Style (Cautious Style x Darnley Flight). His racing name was Bachelor Boy, and he was unplaced in five starts. He was bred in Middlemarch in Otago by Kathryn Abernethy. He was sold at the South Island sales as a two-year-old for $3000.
He was bought by Stead as a three-year-old from leading New Zealand showjumper John Cottle.
Promise’s half brother, GV Top of the Line (Midas), by Golden Glimmer, who competed with Australian Olivia Bunn at the 2004 Athens Olympics, as well as WEG, Badminton, and Kentucky.