Andrew Nicholson’s popular grey Avebury has been retired from eventing at the age of 16.

Zest

Like Clifton Promise, whose retirement was also announced this week, Avebury was entered for Badminton but has since been withdrawn.

“This is a day we were all dreading,” said owner Rosemary Barlow. “He has served us so well and after his last gallop he wasn’t showing his normal exuberance and zest for life. Sadly old age has begun to catch up with him, and he deserves a well-earned rest.”

Avebury ran once this season, at Great Witchingham in March, and he won – finishing his career on a high.

Top horse

Avebury is one of the most successful event horses of all time, having amassed 2,113 British Eventing points during his stellar career.

The son of Jumbo won Burghley three times in a row and the Barbury Castle CIC3* four times in a row.

Avebury was bred by Andrew, and as a foal became known at home as “Buddy”, a name given to him by Andrew’s daughters Rebecca and Melissa.

He broke him in and then sold him to go showjumping. He was successful in that discipline as a five-year-old, before Andrew’s wife Wiggy bought him back and evented him in his six-year-old year.

Then Andrew took back the reins. “Rosemary Barlow wanted a new horse, so I said to her that I thought I knew of one. Wiggy went away for a few days, so I sneaked him up to the gallops to see what he could do. I was quite impressed, so I suggested Rosemary bought him for me to ride.”

Greatest days

Andrew described the horses as “an exceptional performer”. “He loves a big atmosphere and shows off in it, and has always been a brilliant jumper and galloper. He has always been a winner, and I have to thank him for some of the greatest days of my career,” he said.

“He’s got a cheeky side to him, but whenever you walk into the yard, he’s happy to see you. He loves his work and is very bubbly about everything. He’s still naughty to catch in the field – he gallops around squealing, but as soon as it rains, or he thinks something might be happening without him, he runs up and down the fence line yelling to be brought in.”

Rosemary Barlow described Avebury as a ‘horse of a lifetime’.

According to Andrew, the gelding will enjoy an active retirement at his ownyard, Westwood Stud. “He’s part of the family, and will stay here with us. Wiggy will ride him, and no doubt my daughter Lily will put her name down for a go!”