Zara Tindall heartbroken after death of beloved horse Toytown

By Gemma Strong

Zara Tindall is mourning the loss of her world champion eventing horse Toytown following his death at the age of 24. Zara's husband Mike Tindall announced the sad news on Twitter, paying tribute to the 17 hands chestnut gelding. "So sad to say goodbye to the big man today, been a massive part of our lives giving us so many highs! RIP Toytown," he tweeted. Zara and Toytown's partnership lasted for almost two decades, and in that time they won individual gold and team silver in the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Germany.

TAP TO VIEW GALLERYZara Tindall's message on twitter Zara Tindall's husband, Mike Tindall, announced the sad news of Toytown's death on Twitter

Zara, 36, also won three European Eventing Championship titles on Toytown; one individual gold in 2005 and two team golds. The pair unfortunately missed out on both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games because of injury, and on the final day of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe House in 2011, Toytown was officially retired. He briefly came out of retirement for the 2012 Olympic Games when Zara carried the Olympic torch as part of the flame's relay across the country.

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Speaking at the time of his retirement, Zara – who affectionately referred to Toytown as 'Noddy' or 'Ginger' – said: "I think it will be difficult. It's the end of an era. He was the horse of a lifetime for me. We grew up together, we went through the levels together, and it all just seemed to go our way. His movement, his character, it all combined to make the compete horse. And cross-country, he was just a machine.

Zara and Toytown with the Olympic torch Zara and Toytown pictured with the Olympic torch ahead of London 2012

"I don't think I am ever going to find another horse quite like him, but hopefully others that will be good enough to go to the same level as he did." Toytown lived a happy retirement in the grounds of Princess Anne's Gatcombe Estate, where Zara and Mike live with their daughter Mia.

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