Three horses die after Blenheim Horse Trials cross-country

Ricker Ridge Ricochet succumbed to injuries in the eight and nine-year-old CCI4*-S class, and Fanta Boy and Equador III lost following the CCI4* class.
File image. © Mike Bain

Updated September 23, 2022

Three horses were euthanised following the cross-country phase of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in Britain at the weekend.

The deaths bring the number of eventing fatalities for 2022 to seven horses.

The first, New Zealand-bred warmblood Ricker Ridge Ricochet, fell at the B element of the 12th fence during the eight and nine-year-old CCI4*-S event. Rider Samantha Lissington was taken to hospital, and later reported she had broken ribs.

Ricochet, a nine-year-old daughter of the Jazz son GT Jake, was out of the Landioso mare Sunshine Nardioso.

It was reported that organisers withdrew the B element of fence 12 following the accident.

British bred-horse Equador III died after sustaining a rotational fall during the running of the featured CCI4* class, his rider Thomas Martin reported.

“Unfortunately Eddie sustained a leg injury. Due to that leg injury we had to make the tough decision this morning to put him to rest,” he said on Sunday.

He had bought Eddie for £5 six years ago, he said, and described the son of Zanzibar as “my horse of a lifetime”.

“You were nothing but heart and you are going to be sorely missed. It’s just not going to be the same in the yard without you.”

Fanta Boy, the ride of Britain’s Georgie Goss (née Spence) died late on Saturday night. The Dutch-bred 12-year-old by Lucky Boy (ex Vo Balia, by Numero Uno) had completed the cross-country without jumping faults.

“With a broken heart, I can confirm that very sadly our Fanta Boy passed away late into the night on Saturday.

“He was an incredible horse and I will cherish the memories I’ve shared with him and his wonderful owners, Nicky [Cooper] and Lucy [Fleming],” Goss said.

No cause of death was given for Fanta Boy.

Eventing safety researcher Euan Bennet, whose recently published work on cross-country eventing risks in July identified the most hazardous types of fences, said the latest deaths showed the need for a major safety review. In that review, Bennet and his colleagues said the headline FEI statistics on falls indicate that it is difficult to conclude that some aspects of eventing cross-country course design have become safer.

He told Horsetalk, following the Blenheim fatalities: “These tragic deaths underline that cross-country is a risky phase, and demonstrate the urgent need for a major review of safety in the sport, focused on course and fence design that prioritises safety without compromising on challenge.

“These are at least the 119th, 120th, and 121st eventing horse fatalities since the International Eventing Safety Committee concluded in the year 2000 that ‘everything should be done to prevent horses from falling’.

“It is critical that the industry continues to look at reform and take a more proactive approach to evidence-based risk assessment, both at the level of the athlete/horse and the course itself,” Bennet said.


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