We are very saddened to hear of the loss of the good horse Grass Valley at Belton Horse Trials. The 15-year-old had to be put down after breaking his fetlock on the cross-country. We extend our sincere condolences to his connections, especially his rider Gabriel Cury and to Sir Mark Todd.
Grass Valley (‘Riley’) was an Irish sporthorse by Legal Pressure and is well known to us through his efforts with Sir Mark. He was produced by Eric Smiley of Ireland.
Gabriel finished 41st at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy on Riley, and just last year was third in the Boekelo CCIO3* and completed Badminton with a clear cross-country, some time faults and one show jump rail.
Gabriel and his Brazilian team will be devastated, not only to lose such a good horse, but they did have a real prospect with him at their home Olympics. Sir Mark is an adviser / coach to the team.
Riley had the honour of being the horse on which Sir Mark Todd rode over his first four-star track after more than 10 years away from top-level eventing; the pair contested Badminton in 2010. At the time, Mark said he was unsure about the capabilities of the horse, who – astonishingly – had only completed one CCI3* beforehand.
After a modest dressage score left them in 54th place, the pair rose to 18th with just a handful of penalties from both jumping phases; Mark was delighted.
“I’ve only had him a year and I’ve really thrown him in at the deep end, but he’s my only hope of getting to the WEG,” Mark told us. His top horse that year, Land Vision, was injured, and Gandalf had been put down due to ill health, so it was the inexperienced Irish-bred who indeed took him to WEG.
There, the pair finished in 11th place individually and second best of the bronze-medal-winning Kiwi team; as pathfinders they completed a brilliant cross-country round incurring just 1.6 time.