Clayton Fredericks and Nullabor at last year's Burghley Horse Trials. © Jan Milne

May 18, 2008

One of Australia's best eventing horses, Nullabor, has died during the cross-country phase of the Saumur three-star horse trials in France.

Nullabor, ridden by Clayton Fredericks, was taking a turn between jumps two and three and slipped and stumbled. He broke his neck and died instantly, with a necropsy revealing that his fifth cervical vertebrae was broken in the fall.

Nullabor was an 11-year-old gelding, by the thoroughbred stallion Creative Plan and out of the Irish Sport Horse mare Lethal Lass (by Regal Sting [TB]). He had been riddedn by Clayton Fredericks since he was a three-year-old, and was owned by the rider and Edwin and Peta McAuley. Nullabor was the 2006 British Open Champion at Gatcombe. He was bred by William Little from Co Tyrone in Ireland and was originally intended for a show career.

Several top-flight eventing horses have died as a result of injuries sustained on cross-country courses in the past few months.

Nullabor and Fredericks had led after the dressage phase, and their departure left fellow Australian Sam Griffiths and Happy Times in the lead, with a total of 47.3 penalties.

The cross-country has proved to be quite a test, with no riders back within the allotted time, and only 27 of the 57 starters returning without incident.

Matt Ryan did not finish with any of his horses, and Lucinda Fredericks and Mr Alligator ended their cross-country round at the 14th jump.

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