WILTSHIRE-BASED Olympic rider Lucinda Fredericks today confirmed that her champion horse Headley Britannia has been put to sleep.

Australian rider Fredericks, who is based at Little Cheverell, was widely thought of as the best eventing mare in history, and wasone of only two horses to have won all three of the top four-star events - Badminton, Burghley, and Kentucky Rolex.

She retired from top level competition in 2012 but enjoyed a win at Express Eventing in 2013.

Fredericks, who represented Australia at London 2012, said: "Brit was the best horse I could have ever hoped to have ridden and I owe her so much.

"We were having so much fun today in the beautiful sunshine XC (cross country) schooling, I was so pleased to be with her for her last moments, and to have a chance to thank her for everything she has done for me and everyone around her. She remained calm, steady and was peaceful at the end.

"I am so thankful for the partnership I had with Brit, she was one in a million. She was small but had such a huge heart. She was a true professional and made my career what it is, and without her I wouldn’t be where I am.

"She was my best friend. She touched so many people’s lives and always brought a smile to everyone’s face”.

Headley Britannia was sent to Fredericks to be sold in 2002, but no-one wanted a small chestnut mare whose ears could not be touched, and so she stayed to be competed. That year she won Blenheim.

After winning Badminton she went to stud for embryo transfer.

In 2008, she and Fredericks helped Australia to a team silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, and she went on to have foals by Jaguar Mail - Britannia’s Mail, and Little Britannia - both of whom are competing this weekend, sa well as five other foals.