Roger Fitzhardinge's Berkeley Castle Passed Away
Roger Fitzhardinge has lost his Grand Prix level trained Berkeley Castle due to colic. The grey gelding was euthanized after a short but disastrous bout of colic on the evening of 11 February 2012. He was 16 years old.
The Australian warmblood Berkeley Castle (by Montora out of My Lady Leica) was bought by Roger Fitzhardinge as a 4 year old and he trained him from Preliminary and young horse classes to Grand Prix. He also was a prolific winner in the Show Hunter Arena as well and gained several State and National Titles being Show Hunter of the year twice.
"Brian" won many championships throughout the levels in dressage and competed very successfully as a small tour horse. He did compete in a few Inter II tests before Roger agreed to loan him as Para Olympic horse for the Australian Team in Athens. He flew to Athens to compete and was an absolute gem and placed 9th overall.
Berkeley Castle then stayed in Europe for several months training with Roger at the stables of Martina Hannover-Sternberg and then more extensively at Arjen Teeuwissen in Belgium.
He returned to Chatham Park in NSW and continued to compete and was then asked to be the mount for Nicole Kidman in the opening scene of the movie Australia. Roger spent six weeks working with Nicole and Brian and the time was a real highlight. As always Brian came up with the goods. He was a very spooky horse and not at all brave in competition yet when the going was tough he always came up with the goods. He never shied or spooked at a thing at the Para Olympics, not once and nor did he ever look at a thing on set for Nicole or Roger.
"Brian" put up with noise, cameras on tracks, umbrellas, Baz Luhrmann waving his arms and boards around and Nicole riding him all over the place, down narrow bitumen roads with drains and cameras on tracks rolling two feet from him, he stood for hours for still photos with cranes lowering backdrops and lights that would blind you he was a as honest as the day was long, but put a pot plant on the arena letter C and it was terrifying. Nicole rode him in all the opening scene work and he never put a foot wrong and it was take after take after take. He did once happen to miss going through the gate in to the stabled area where the filming was being done and took Nicole off up in to the rose gardens of the Mansion for a quiet moment!!
After this he did not want to compete Grand Prix despite he made all the movements easily. He was then given to Fiona Blundell who looked after “Lord Brian” like a King and enjoyed his every day. He showed her the ropes to Prix St George and Fiona will certainly miss him.
"Brian was my soul mate," Roger commented. "He took me where I could never have gone without him. He was patient and kind though a little neurotic but I understood him as he did me. He was majestic and he was always so welcoming. He taught me so much and was so much part of my life. I was lucky to have had such a wonderful horse in my life and he will never be compared to any other. He may have not been a gold medalist at an Olympics but to me he was just that. I will miss him and I am sorry I wasn’t there to say goodbye. Farewell Brian I will always remember your generosity."