William Fox-Pitt announces shock passing of top event horse, Oratorio
William Fox-Pitt has announced the death of his top five-star event horse, Oratorio II, stable name Rio, who collapsed and died during the cross country at Lincolnshire Horse Trials on Sunday, 19th March 2023. It is suspected that the 2009 gelding died of a heart attack during what was his first event of the season.
The following statement was released on Fox-Pitt’s website, and on social media via head groom and yard manager, Jackie Potts:
“Oratorio got the day off to a brilliant start in the dressage with a score of 23, he felt so established and relaxed, even though it was an OI I was quite excited. He jumped a very respectable show jumping round with one pole down.
“The cross country turned the day into a tragedy. He flew the first part of the cross country course, feeling amazing and making it all seamless. But then the worst happened; we were galloping towards the last fence and he collapsed and died from a heart attack”.
Fox-Pitt was due to ride Oratorio at the Eventing Spring Carnival at Thoresby Park International at the end of March, and the horse was believed to be in good health.
The statement continued:
“There is no easy way of saying this but it was out of nowhere, he was one minute feeling fantastic and next minute gone, and I have to take consolation from the fact that he did not suffer, there was no indication that anything was untoward and we all have to believe that, with any animal there is always uncertainty.”
“My devastation extends to the whole Oratorio team who have supported him for so long, and believed in him. We were all very excited about Badminton 2023, and he had really felt like an established mature 5* event horse.
“The Lincoln team dealt with the nightmare brilliantly, they were very professional and efficient and I am very grateful for all their support.
My team were brilliant too, and much as we would have preferred not to, we had to continue with the day to qualify the horses for the season ahead.”
Fox-Pitt enjoyed the ride of the 16.3hh dark bay syndicate owned gelding since taking over the reins from Laura Collette. Starting their first season together in 2017, they enjoyed success, including placing 2nd at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials CCI*** in 2019. The pair went on to 5* competition together, including Badminton Horse Trials in 2019 and 2022, where they were placed 13th and 14th, respectively.
Social media tributes are pouring in for the team, with people expressing their sadness and shock at the sudden and untimely death of the stunning and talented Oratorio.
The news comes at the same time as another eventing superstar, Primmore’s Pride, sadly passed over rainbow bridge.