Health problems claim Zara Phillips’s super-horse Toytown

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Toytown in his official retirement ceremony at Gatcombe in 2011, with Zara Tindall in the saddle, and her parents, Mark Phillips and Princess Anne.
Toytown in his official retirement ceremony at Gatcombe in 2011, with Zara Tindall in the saddle, and her parents, Mark Phillips and Princess Anne. © Al Crook

World and European champion eventer Toytown has been put down at the age of 25 for health reasons. He had been officially retired since 2011, but had his last start in 2009.

Ridden by the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall, Toytown won individual and team European eventing titles in 2005 and individual three-day eventing gold medal at the World Equestrian Games in Germany in 2006.

Zara Phillips and Toytown at the trot-up at Badminton in 2009.
Zara Phillips and Toytown at the trot-up at Badminton in 2009. © Jan Milne

The pair had gone through the grades together, and by the time Toytown was formally retired at Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing in 2011, his career had harvested five major championship medals, four of them gold. Tindall described him as “a machine” on the cross-country.

In 2013, Toytown was inducted into the British Horse Society Equestrian Hall of Fame.

The 17hh chestnut gelding of unknown breeding, with his characteristic blaze and distinctive white spots, joined the Phillips family as a seven-year-old after he was spotted by Zara’s father, Mark Phillips. “Noddy” remained part of the family for the rest of his career.

The duo broke into the limelight in 2002 with victory in the under-25 championships at Bramham and the individual silver medal at the young rider European Championships. The following year they proved they were a force to be reckoned with at senior level, narrowly missing out on the Burghley title in a nail-biting finish.

In 2005 they made their British team debut, securing Individual and Team Gold at the European Championships in front of a home crowd at Blenheim Palace.

The pair then stormed on to claim the individual title and team silver in the World Equestrian Games at Aachen in 2006.

Sadly, injury prevented Toytown from showcasing his incredible talents at an Olympic Games.

Zara Phillips and Toytown on their way to winning the 2005 European Eventing Championships over the David Evans-designed course at Blenheim.
Zara Phillips and Toytown on their way to winning the 2005 European Eventing Championships.

Announcing his passing on Tuesday morning (June 27), Tindall said: “I’m heartbroken to say that … I had to say goodbye to my greatest friend and horse of a lifetime.

“He was the most incredible athlete with the biggest heart, European and World champion back to back,” she said.

“He made my career and I couldn’t be more grateful to him for the amazing times we had together. He was a huge part of my family, an amazing animal and a true champion.”

Zara Phillips and Toytown during the Olympic flame's journey to London before the 2012 Games.
Zara Phillips and Toytown during the Olympic flame’s journey to London before the 2012 Games. © Getty Images
 Zara Phillips and Toytown at the 2005 European Championships at Blenheim Palace. 
Zara Phillips and Toytown at the 2005 European Championships at Blenheim Palace. © Kit Houghton

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