Heartbreak For South African Eventing Champion

Heartbreak For South African Eventing Champion

Heartbreak Hill, affectionately known as Harry, with Paul Hart in the background. Image: Paul Hart and Heartbreak Hill's FB page

It is a sad day for the South African equestrian community as they have lost one of their finest equine ambassadors, writes sportingpost.co.za. Heartbreak Hill, a true example of athleticism, generosity of spirit and tenacity will be remembered as one of the greatest event horses ever produced by this country, from humble beginnings to competing on the world stage.

Tragedy struck on Saturday afternoon (Saturday 1st September) at the Land Rover Burghley international Horse Trials 2012 (UK). South African horse and rider combination Paul Hart and Heartbreak Hill pulled up between jumps 19 and 20 on the Burghley cross country course. Heartbreak Hill, affectionately known as Harry, had broken his leg while galloping on the flat and Harry had to be euthanized immediately. Over the last 4 years this combination have competed at some of the most prestigious eventing shows in the world including the Saumur International Horse Trials 2010 (France), the World Equestrian Games 2010 (USA), The Blenheim International Horse Trials 2011 (UK) and many others.

Recently, SASCOC announced that Harry and Paul were the preferred horse and rider combination to represent SA at the London 2012 Olympics, but their hopes were crushed after controversial rider, Alex Peternell appealed their selection at the International Sports Arbitration Commission (CAS) and SASCOC was forced to allow Peternell to compete instead. The Burghley International Horse Trials was intended to be one of Heartbreak Hill’s last events to be followed by retirement in the UK where he has been based for the last two years.

“I have lost my best friend trying his heart out for me as always. I held him in my arms until he was gone. He died so bravely doing what he loved best. I loved Harry so and I will miss him so much, he took me places I only dreamed of as a kid. My champion man, Harry has gone. He will be so missed as my friend. May [he] be laid to rest in heaven as he has served and shared so much with me so willingly. My Champion Boy.”

What a tragic end to such an inspiring South African equestrian fairy tale. Our thoughts are with Paul, Mike Marsden and Paul’s family and friends.

KZN Breeders would like to extend our sympathies to Paul Hart and his team on the loss of a great Thoroughbred. KZN Breeders secured an exclusive interview with Paul Hart after his initial selection for the Olympic Games, read more about Paul and his great horse ‘Harry’, with his strong ties to KZN here.

Information source courtesy of www.sportingpost.co.za

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