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Tokyo Olympic individual gold medallist Amande de b’Neville will not return to eventing after a break from the sport that began after the Pratoni World Championships last year, at which she won team gold and individual silver with Germany’s Julia Krajewski in the irons.
“I suppose many people are wondering how Mandy is doing and what’s next for her,” writes Julia in a statement on her Instagram. “First of all she is doing absolutely fine, spending her life in the most horsey way (lots of field time) and being her usual proud self.
“About what’s next for her — to be able to give a reliable answer to that question has taken quite some time and consideration… She is an incredibly special horse to us and every decision about her has to do her the best justice possible! To make it short, she will not return to sport but hopefully become as wonderful as a mummy as she was in eventing.”
The decision, Julia continues, “was taken together with her part owner Professor Dr. Bernd Heicke, who is the most supportive owner in these difficult topic, always having the horse’s best interest in mind!”
The 13-year-old Selle Français mare’s (Oscar des Fontaines x Perle de b’Neville, by Elan de la Cour) absence from the sport began with “a hoof issue […] which in itself is not very dramatic”, but despite the dedicated ministrations of Julia and her team, including head groom Sandra Decker, it “simply didn’t improve as we hoped since then, despite all sorts of approaches in treatment. While it does not make her uncomfortable in normal life, there is a risk that it might get way worse when the pressure of performance is put on. Even though there also is a little chance it could work, we decided against trying it.”
For Julia, co-owner Bernd, and all of the special mare’s connections, it’s been a labour of love and a major decision to retire Mandy from sport and begin her career as a broodmare.
“Everyone is to judge himself what chances are right to take, but I felt that Mandy gave me so so much, being the most outstanding horse, making all my dreams come true, that my biggest fear would have been to fail her in return and not deciding in her best interest,” says Julia. “Honestly though I’m feeling ambivalent about this final decision… while I am very sad that I will not feel her incredible power, clever mind, scopey jump and sheer determination, which then sometimes peaked into this unreal connection I felt in Tokyo or Pratoni at the last day, again, I am very much at peace with the decision to retire her now and hopefully have some nice foals from her in the future.”
If those foals live up to half their mother’s talent, they’ll certainly be worth getting excited about. In her FEI career, which began in the latter half of 2016, Mandy tackled 31 international events, finishing in the top ten 21 times and winning four times. Though she spent the early part of her upper-level career in the spotlight of her stablemate, the five-star winner Samourai du Thot, she blossomed at exactly the right time: in 2021, just before the German team’s final selections were made for Tokyo, and just as Julia had to retire ‘Sam’ after he lost an eye.
“At the beginning of the year, I deleted all of the Tokyo deadlines and cancelled flights and things, because I thought, ‘okay, well, it’s not for me this year,’ and then we went to Saumur and I had to say, ‘oh, maybe we can go — better cancel the holiday!’,” Julia told EN at Luhmühlen that summer, just weeks before she took the gold in Tokyo. “She’s really come into her own this year — she’s stabled next to Sam, so perhaps he’s telling her a few things. She’s so cool — she’s a real princess, and sometimes a queen. She’s quite a fighter, and a real machine.”
Happy retirement, Mandy – we look forward to covering the successes of your offspring in the years to come.