Gone but not forgotten: Notable passings of people and horses

Octagonal (1992-2016)
Octagonal (1992-2016)


Ten-time Group One winner Octagonal, Australia’s Horse of the Year in 1996, was euthanised at Godolphin Woodlands in Australia on October 15 at the age of 24.

The Big O, as he was affectionately known, was still bright and alert mentally but was struggling physically. Octagonal was bred at Cambridge Stud in New Zealand and was from the first crop of champion sire Zabeel from the top-class imported broodmare Eight Carat (Pieces of Eight).

The Octagonal statue at Woodlands
The Octagonal statue at Woodlands

Bought by Jack and Bob Ingham, he was trained for his entire career by John Hawkes at their headquarters Crown Lodge. This weekend marks the 21st anniversary of Octagonal’s stirring victory as a three-year-old in the Group One Cox Plate. The following autumn he won Sydney’s three-year-old Triple Crown of the Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby. Octagonal quickly developed a cult following and was revered for his ability to continually prevail in close finishes.

As a five-year-old, he recorded his 10th Group One win in the Mercedes Classic, a victory that saw him become the highest-earning horse in Australian racing history at the time.

Retired to stud in 1997, Octagonal made the perfect start to his new career, siring Horse of the Year Lonhro in his first crop. An 11-time Group One winner, Lonhro is the only Australian Horse of the Year to go on and become a champion stallion.

John Sunderland, General Manager at Woodlands said: “It is a sad day as Octagonal is an old favourite of everyone and he will be sorely missed. He was such a lovely horse to deal with and such a big part of Woodlands.”

Octagonal has been buried at Woodlands, where he spent the majority of the past 16 years, alongside his old mate Canny Lad.

Let's Elope (1987-2016)
Let’s Elope (1987-2016)

Let’s Elope 

Champion racehorse Let’s Elope, who in 1991 became the first mare in more than 50 years to complete Australia’s famed Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double, has died at the age of 29.

The daughter of Nassipour died in her sleep on September 11 under her favourite gumtree at Lauriston Park in Victoria, Australia.

Trained by Bart Cummings, Let’s Elope also won the 1991 Mackinnon Stakes and 1992 Australian Cup.

An 11-time winner from 26 starts, Let’s Elope earned more than $3 million in prizemoney and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2012.

At stud she produced Group Two winners Outback Joe and Ustinov, and

After retiring from a broodmare career in 2008 – she produced Group Two winners Outback Joe and Ustinov – she took up a nannying role to foals at Seven Creeks and then Lauriston Park.


Quiet American celebrated his 30th birthday on April 29.
Quiet American celebrated his 30th birthday on April 29.

Quiet American

Quiet American, whose Champion son Real Quiet won the G1 Kentucky Derby and the G1 Preakness Stakes, has been euthanized at the age of 30 at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Pensioned from stud duties in 2013, the son of Fappiano was out of the winning Dr. Fager mare Demure and raced in the colors of Sheikh Mohammed.

“To achieve what he did as a racehorse and as a stallion, and then be able to live a long and happy life, is really what one hopes for of any horse,” said Godolphin America COO Dan Pride.

“His legacy will certainly live on through his sons and daughters. He was such a favorite of ours as well as fans in general. We’re all going to miss him.”

Bred in Florida by Tartan Farms Corporation, Quiet American celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this year on April 29th. He was bought for $300,000 at the 1987 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale by Darley Stud Management. Lightly raced at two and three, Quiet American rose to prominence at four in 1990, winning the G1 NYRA Mile Handicap and the G3 San Diego Handicap, defeating the great Bayakoa, and finishing second in the G1 Woodward Handicap and the G1 Charles H. Strub Stakes. He entered stud at Gainsborough Farm near Versailles, Kentucky, where he stood until 2006. He was moved at the beginning of 2007 when Darley consolidated its stallion operation to Jonabell.

As a stallion, Quiet American achieved early success, siring 16% Stakes winners from foals in his first three crops. His first crop included Hidden Lake, the 1997 Champion older female and his third crop yielded champion Real Quiet, who nearly won the Triple Crown in 1998, beaten by just a nose in the G1 Belmont Stakes.

Quiet American, whose stud fee reached as high as $35,000, sired 54 black type winners and the earners of more than $64 million.

As a broodmare sire, Quiet American is represented by such successful runners as Champion and leading sire Bernardini, also standing at Darley, and Horse of the Year Saint Liam.


TF Kreisler and Sara Sellmer.
TF Kreisler and Sara Sellmer.

TF Kreisler

Three-star eventing horse TF Kreisler, a 12-year-old Irish Warmblood, died on the cross-country at the Woodside International Horse Trials in California on October 8.

Ridden and owned by Canadian Sara Sellmer of Kamloops, British Columbia, “Brad” had a near flawless cross-country round, his rider said.

“His giant, gangly lanky frame and is amazing quiet friendly personality was infectious. If you were lucky enough to meet him you could never forget him,” TJ of Lanzelot Eventing Stables said in a tribute to TF Kreisler.

“He was kind in every way. His goofy personality always overflowing. to know him personally however was truly special.”

The combination went from training to three-star in just three years.

“Brad” was bred by Amy Dundas Head, who died in a stable accident before Brad was born.


HHS Cooley and Liz Halliday-Sharp. © USEA/Leslie Mintz 
HHS Cooley and Liz Halliday-Sharp. © USEA/Leslie Mintz

HHS Cooley

Irish-bred eventing horse HHS Cooley was euthanised after sustaining a fracture during the cross-country phase of the Burgham Horse Trials in Britain on July 30.

Ridden by US eventer Liz Halliday-Sharp, the 12-year-old was competing in the CIC3*. He came to grief at an oxer when he tried to bounce the middle of the jump. A frangible pin was broken in the accident, and Halliday-Sharp was thrown clear, but fractured a vertebrae in her back.

Halliday-Sharp had taken HHS Cooley through the levels, and completed the Kentucky 4* earlier this year.

“To say I am devastated is an understatement,” Halliday-Sharp said. “He was my partner, my best friend, and the bravest horse in the world with the biggest heart who always tried his hardest and gave his best. He really loved eventing from the first moment and lived for the traveling and competing.

“Cooley gave me so much in my life, from my first international win, to my first opportunity on the USA training list, and my first 4* completion at Rolex this year. I will never, ever forget the amazing clear cross country trip he gave me at Rolex and the joy of being there with a horse that I loved so much and had produced from the early stages of his eventing career up to the top. I totally trusted him and he trusted me, and what a ride we have had through the years.”

HHS Cooley was bred in Ireland by Thomas Hughes of Kilkenny. He was by Clover Echo (ISH) out of Flown (ISH) by Imperius (TB).


Nikita Sotskov
Nikita Sotskov

Nikita Sotskov

Russian eventing rider Nikita Sotskov died at a CIC3 event in Ratomka, Belarus, in September in a rotational fall.

The 21-year-old and his horse Larry Carlton suffered a rotational fall at fence 21, the second to last obstacle on the CIC3* course. On-site medical specialists were at the scene immediately after the accident, but sadly the rider could not be saved. The horse was examined by an official veterinarian and treated for a minor injury to his left hind leg.

Sotskov had been riding internationally since 2010, and represented Russia at two European Championships, competing at both junior and young rider level. He had extensive 2* experience, with several top 10 placings with three horses—Ledok, Ilvina V and Larry Carlton. The Ratomka event was his first 3* outing.

His death is the fourth this year of an eventing rider, after Australians Olivia Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer, and US based British rider Philippa Humphries.


Albino Garbari (1934-2016). © Marina Cima
Albino Garbari (1934-2016). © Marina Cima

Albino Garbari

Cross-country course designer Albino Garbari has died at the age of 82. The Italian was the designer at hundreds of major eventing competitions, including the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games.

A hugely popular figure in the Italian Eventing community, Garbari moved to Rome in 1960 and dedicated his life to equestrian sports.

He was first head of the Federal Equestrian Centre of Pratoni del Vivaro, which was created for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. He then started course designing in 1965, and was the cross country course designer for every major event organised in Italy, including the FEI European Eventing Championships in 1995 and the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games, both of which were held at Pratoni del Vivaro. He also worked as an FEI Steward for eventing and dressage throughout his career.

Amongst the many awards he received in recognition of his services to equestrian sport was the Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2007.

Alessandro Fiorani, Head of Eventing at the Federazione Italiana Sport Equestri (FISE), said: “Those of my generation have grown up with the Albino teachings. I was a child and I saw his work, and then in my time at FISE I have had the opportunity to see the great qualities of this man who taught me everything. He conveyed the fundamental teachings of everything connected to the management of the horse and the team, and we have been able to pass on this incredible knowledge. Even when he retired Albino Garbari continued to give advice and support whenever needed, and he never failed to do this. We will miss him.”

Giuseppe della Chiesa, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee and international course designer, said: “Albino was a very special person and an amazing figurehead in the Italian Eventing community. He has been my mentor in course designing and will be greatly missed by all.”


Stephen "Steve" Cushing McBroom
Stephen “Steve” Cushing McBroom

Stephen “Steve” Cushing McBroom

Virginia Horse Center Foundation founding member Stephen ‘Steve’ Cushing McBroom died on October 11 at the age of 64

A lifelong horseman, McBroom was widely regarded as the “Champion of the Virginia Horse Industry.” Along with his wife, Diane Craun McBroom, he owned and operated the celebrated Owl Hollow Farm in Floyd, Virginia where they raised and trained many successful show horses, including champion Morgan stallion, Van Lu Starbuck.

McBroom served on the board of the Virginia Horse Center for 14 years from 2000-2014, and was president from 2006 to 2014. He helped to guide the VHC in its transformation from a public to private organization.

McBroom was inducted into the Virginia Horse Center Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition of his dedicated leadership, professional achievements, and passion for the Virginia horse community at large.

As a true Virginia gentleman farmer, McBroom admired fellow Virginian Robert E. Lee as a role model. McBroom lived his life with an intense sense of purpose and duty and will forever be remembered as a wise and gentle man who touched the life of almost everyone with whom he came in contact.

Stephen McBroom is survived by his wife, Diane Craun McBroom, his daughter Emily June McBroom Stilley, and his son Michael Ross Agee McBroom.

A foundation is being established in McBroom’s honor.


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