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Swinger bows out

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It was the end of an era for one of New Zealand's favourite old showjumpers at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show last night.

Simon Wilson's Swinger was retired from competition after the New Zealand Horse & Pony Magazine Premier Stakes.

“It was always the plan to retire him at HOY,” said his rather subdued rider. “He's been such a good horse to me so I felt it was time to let him enjoy the twilight years of his life. It was always going to end at some stage.”

Nineteen-year-old Swinger has represented New Zealand many times since 2002 and in 2004 won the Olympic Cup as Showjumper of the Year. He has also helped Wilson (Waipukurau) win the New Zealand World Cup Series, the Silver Fern Stakes at HOY, and a World Cup round in Australia.

There are many highlights from their long career together, but winning the Olympic Cup is probably the most special for Wilson.
But he has taken it easy with the chestnut Swinger this season, picking and choosing just where and when to start him.

“He's perfectly sound, and we wanted him to go out like that.”

Swinger will now spend his days babysitting foals at the Wilson's Waipukurau farm.

“He's pretty cruisy at home, and I'm sure he will be a sensible role model,” said Claire Wilson. “He's really one of the good old boys of showjumping. It is a bit sad – not many horses can jump at that level for so long and stay sound.”

Wilson got Swinger – a thoroughbred by Sculptured Arch – as a six-year-old from his uncle Harvey Wilson. Luckily for the world of showjumping, he was a 'failed' racehorse. Together they won just short of $100,000 in prize money.

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