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Oslo, who gained Pau five-star with William Fox-Pitt, put down age 20

  • Oslo, who won at four- and five-star with William Fox-Pitt, was put down on 11 October at the age of 20.

    “He was a very accomplished all-round horse, who didn’t find anything difficult and you can’t say that about many horses,” William Fox-Pitt told Horse & Hound.

    “He had the brain, he could move, jump and gallop. I got him with the London Olympics in mind and he just didn’t stay sound quite long enough, which was definitely a low for me because he would have gone there with quite a nice chance of being competitive. But for him, it wasn’t to be.”

    Oslo was bred in France by Philippe Brivois, by the Sydney Olympic showjumping individual silver medallist Lando. William first saw him at Le Lion d’Angers as a four-year-old stallion, but thought he was a little small. He was still underwhelmed when owner Eric Attiger brought Oslo to Britain to a sale at Russ Hardy’s yard, but joked that if he didn’t sell, he’d be happy to take him as a gift.

    Unsold, Oslo ended up in Dorset and after he’d spent a month in the yard, William advised the 10-strong Fox-Pitt Eventing Partnership – a syndicate which grew out of the larger Fox-Pitt Eventing Club – to buy him. He was one of the first horses to be owned by a syndicate of this sort and William said he learnt a lot about this set-up from having Oslo.

    “We had a big team of owners sharing the fun and it was a great few years that was rather nice to have been shared with a good group of people,” he said.

    The horse was gelded at the end of his five-year-old year, with 60 straws of semen being taken, as William felt he had a better chance of being a top-class competition horse as a gelding. The breeding suffix “Biats” was removed from his name at the same time, but has since become better known in eventing through horses such as Kitty King’s European team gold medallist Vendredi Biats and Emily King’s five-star ride Valmy Biats.

    Oslo was a prolific winner as a young horse, taking the six-year-old World Championship at Le Lion d’Angers in 2008, finishing second at Tattersalls CCI* (now CCI2*-L) and second in the seven-year-olds at Le Lion in 2009, and then second at Blair Castle CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) in 2010.

    “He was an exceptional young horse – overall my horses mature generally a bit later, but I got Oslo at four and he was a very precocious, a very sorted young horse,” said William. “He found everything very easy very early. I was always surprised that he always seemed like he’d read the book, he always knew what to do and what was happening.”

    The year 2011 was a bonza one for Oslo. He was third at Chatsworth CIC3* (now CCI4*-S), then won Tattersalls CCI3* (now CCI4*-L), the Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old CIC3* (now CCI4*-S) and Pau CCI4* (now CCI5*). His win at Tattersalls was part of a notable treble for William when he won three CCIs in the same day.

    “It looked likely he’d be a London 2012 horse, but that year he went lame and very sadly it wasn’t to be. That was sort of the beginning of the end of his career annoyingly, as he’d won everything up to that level,” said William.

    The horse did return to top level competition and completed Badminton in 2013, when William dropped a rein across country and Oslo had the only cross-country jumping fault of his international career.

    Oslo’s breeding career was limited, but one of his offspring, Oratorio, is competing at five-star with William and the rider is also currently breaking in a three-year-old mare by him, out of a thoroughbred mare.

    “She’s quite little, 15.3hh and very straightforward, so she’ll be a great junior or young rider horse for my daughter Chloe, who will be 15 when she’s 10,” said William.

    Oslo retired in 2017 but returned to the fray with William’s goddaughter, Daisy Dollar, who enjoyed a number of placings at BE100 and novice with him in 2018 and 2019.

    After that, he moved to the yard owned by Lucinda de Mauley and her wife Rupert and run by Spencer Sturmey and his partner Freddie Ellams, and enjoyed his retirement there.

    “Eventually his feet got the better of him”, said Spencer. “After very careful management from us and farriers, the X-rays sadly didn’t lie. In the interest of his quality of life and wellbeing, it was decided that for him the best thing was to have him put to sleep.

    “He spent his last two years with us hacking around the estate and villages, charming everyone he met. He was the Colin Firth of the equestrian world, a true gentleman through and through. He had his ‘side’ though, which ultimately made him the tough three-day event horse he was.

    “It’s been a very tough time for everyone but his incredible memories will live on, plus there are his undoubtedly talented offspring. We will always remember his wonderfully kind temperament and the way he looked after and taught Freddie, who is a novice, so much.”

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    William Fox-Pitt said it would be lovely in the future to find him “a super hacking home”

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