We’re sad to report that Oslo, the Pau-winning French-bred ride of William Fox-Pitt, has died at the age of 20 after a busy, happy retirement, leaving behind a multifaceted legacy in the sport of eventing.
The Selle Français gelding (Lando x Aurelie du Prieure, by Hadj A X) was bred at Ferme de Biats France, which has made headlines at Pau again last week for the success of Emily King’s mount Valmy Biats, who was also bred by Ferme de Biats’s Philippe Brivois. Though Brivois has bred a number of top-level eventing horses, including Kitty King’s excellent Vendredi Biats and Tom Crisp’s Vendome Biats, it was Oslo who would be his first foray into breeding for this discipline, and the lynchpin of a sea change that has had a huge impact on the sport.
“When I sold Oslo Biats when he was two years old and they told me it was to do eventing, I immediately replied that it was out of the question because I didn’t want hurt my horse,” says Brivois in an interview with French magazine l’Eperon. “I bred show horses and only used champion stallions in this discipline. It was Jean-Luc Dufour who convinced me to take a full interest by explaining to me that eventing is no longer what it was. In the end, I did well to embark on this adventure.”
Oslo was best known for winning the CCI5* at Les Etoiles de Pau in 2011 as a nine-year-old, on his debut at the level, but his sixteen-run international record featured a number of highlights, with five total FEI victories and a further four top-three finishes to his name. He became the Six-Year-Old World Champion at Le Lion d’Angers in 2008 and followed that victory up with a silver at the Seven-Year-Old World Championships the following year, and in 2011, he won both the CCI4*-L at Tattersalls and the Blenheim Eight- and Nine-Year-Old CCI4*-S before tackling that fateful Pau.
He was officially retired from competition in mid-2017 at the age of fifteen, after a spate of niggling injuries and setbacks, which included a foreleg suspensory injury that had knocked him out of contention for the 2012 London Olympics and some hock issues, which had crept in in the year of his retirement. After an initial period of downtime, in which he enjoyed time out in the field with two of his stablemates, he re-entered light work, first as a happy hacker, and then was given to William’s goddaughter, Daisy Dollar, who gained experience at BE100 (US Training) and stepped up to Novice (Preliminary) with the gelding in 2018, enjoying a competitive season of Novice classes in 2019 before Oslo’s official retirement. Since then, he’s enjoyed a relaxed life with Spencer Sturmey, partner Freddie Ellams, and Lucinda de Mauley, and was finally laid to rest in mid-October.
Oslo’s impact on the industry stretched further than his own excellent competitive record: he was also one of the first horses to be piloted under a successful syndicate, bringing the concept in from the world of racing, in which William’s wife Alice has such a wealth of experience. Though he was cut at five, he also has a significant breeding legacy: one of the sixty straws of semen taken at West Kington Stud was used to produce William’s current five-star mount, Oratorio II.
All of us at EN send our sympathies and condolences to William, Alice, Philippe, and all those connected with the horse through his extensive syndicated family.