Top event horse Avebury has been retired

Avebury, ridden by Andrew Nicholson, has today been withdrawn from Badminton and retired from competition.

Andrew Nicholson and Avebury at home at Westwood Stud. Credit: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post Books

Ridden by Andrew Nicholson and owned by Mark and Rosemary Barlow, 16-year-old Avebury – known at home as “Buddy” – has been retired.

He is the only horse to have won Burghley CCI4* three times (2012-2014) and Barbury Castle CIC3* four times (2012-2015). In total, he has accumulated 2,113 British Eventing points.

His owner, Rosemary Barlow said: “This is a day we were all dreading. 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 is a horse of a life time and owes us nothing. Sometimes in his younger years he could be a little bit naughty, but he has been a complete joy to own. He has won at every level and during his career he ran 71 times with Andrew and 11 with Wiggy [Andrew’s wife, who competed him at novice level]. He won 27 times and was placed on numerous occasions.

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“Mark and I would like to thank Andrew and Wiggy and all the staff at Westwood for looking after him so well over the past 10 years. Avebury will continue to live at Westwood – a home he knows and loves.”

Event rider Andrew Nicholson broke in Avebury, and then sold him to go showjumping. He was successful in that discipline as a five-year-old, and then Wiggy bought him back and evented him in his six-year-old year, winning a novice event at Gatcombe on him.

 In their first season together in 2007, Andrew and Avebury won the CCI* at Tattersalls and three intermediate classes, as well as finishing second in the British Novice Championships at Gatcombe and fourth in the World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers.

The following year, they won the CCI2* at Tattersalls, were fourth in the British Intermediate Championships at Gatcombe and fifth in their first CCI3* at Gatcombe and won an advanced class a Aston-le-Walls.

In 2009, they took the CCI3* at Saumur and were second in the CIC3* for eight- and nine-year-olds at Blenheim, as well as winning an advanced at Powderham.

In 2011 Andrew and Avebury were 10th at Badminton and eighth at Burghley, and in 2012 they scored the first of their multiple victories in the CIC3* at Barbury Castle and at Burghley.

In 2015, the pair took their fourth Barbury Castle CIC3* win and were preparing for an attempt at a fourth consecutive Burghley triumph when Andrew suffered the bad fall at Gatcombe from another horse which broke his neck and finished his season.

Avebury’s only run in 2016 was at Great Witchingham in March and, fittingly, he won.

“He has been an exceptional performer, says Andrew. “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.”