RIP Avebury

Terrible news coming out of England this morning. Our sincere condolences to the Nicholson team, and Avebury's owners, the Barlows.

It's Andrew again, this time with Avebury, showing how the Cottesmore Leap is done (Image: Libby Law)
Andrew and Avebury, showing how the infamous Cottesmore Leap is done (Image: Libby Law)

Terrible news from the UK this morning. Avebury, who won Burghley CCI4* three times (2012-2014) with Andrew Nicholson, was put down on Tuesday September 6.

Rosemary and Mark Barlow’s 16-year-old, who retired from eventing in April after a brilliant career, was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his jaw a few weeks ago. This developed very rapidly, and he received palliative care to ensure he was comfortable throughout.

Sadly there is no appropriate treatment for this type of tumour and the difficult decision was made to put him to sleep today.

Avebury was bred by Andrew, whose children gave him his stable-name, “Buddy”. He started his eventing career with Andrew’s wife, Wiggy, but Andrew took over the ride in 2007.

In their first season together, they 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, fifth in their first CIC3* (again, at Gatcombe) and won an Advanced class at Aston-le-Walls.

In 2009, they won 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.

Andrew Nicholson and Avebury emerge victorious at the 2014 Burghley Horse Trials. (Image: Jane Thompson)
Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, victorious at the 2014 Burghley Horse Trials. (Image: Jane Thompson)

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, which he won. Since then, he has hacked out at home and in the summer holidays Andrew and Wiggy’s children, Lily and Zach, enjoyed riding him.

Andrew and Wiggy said: “We were deeply shocked at the rapid progression of the cancer, as only a few weeks ago he was thoroughly enjoying being ridden by Lily in his retirement.

“Our only relief is that we were able to ensure he did not suffer, and were able to make the right decision in the interests of his welfare – which has always been our absolute priority.

“He has been part of our family for a very long time and has given Andrew some of the greatest days of his career. He will be deeply missed.”

He has been buried in the garden, at his home, Westwood Stud.