Parklane Hawk, the New Zealand bred thoroughbred who carried William Fox-Pitt at Kentucky, Burghley and Blenheim, has died at the age of 22. His passing was announced by Rookery Park Stud in Cheshire, where he had lived in retirement for the past six years with his owners, David and Catherine Witt. Catherine Witt expressed her good fortune to have owned Parklane Hawk: “He has taken me on such an incredible journey and made me so many friends and memories. I owed him so much. He was loved by all of us at Rookery Park Stud.”
“Parker” won the Blenheim Horse Trials in 2010, Burghley in 2011 and Kentucky in 2012. He was also twice third at Burghley, in 2012 and 2013. Parklane Hawk (Grosvenor x DeeBee Lady, by Brilliant Invader) was a former racehorse, racing under the name Park Lane. Grosvenor was also the sire of Blyth Tait’s Santos. Parklane Hawk’s dam, Deebee Lady won five races and is by the renowned sport horse sire Brilliant Invader, the sire of Tait’s Olympic gold medal horse Ready Teddy, among many other top eventers and jumpers. Brilliant Invader is also the damsire of the 2012 New Zealand showjumping Horse of the Year, Daffodil.
As a racehorse, Parklane Hawk had 19 starts, 13 on the flat and three apiece over steeples and hurdles. He was third once over steeples, but fell and was pulled up on the other two occasions. He had third, fourth and fifth placings on the flat, earning $1875. He dropped his jockey six times in his first seven starts. He was brought up through the eventing ranks in New Zealand by Matthew Grayling, before he was sold to Catherine Witt in 2010.
After their cross-country run on their way to winning the (now 5*) Kentucky Three-Day-Event in 2012, Fox-Pitt described Parklane Hawk as “superb, he is quite feisty and he can have opinions of his own. Once or twice turning was a little bit untidy but maybe I am being fussy, he was damn good!”
“He gave me some ride. He is a thoroughbred horse, he has raced in New Zealand, his grandfather is Danehill so I had a huge advantage. He is pure class. I was down at the beginning and you just need to settle him on this course. I knew that 15 seconds down on a horse like that is irrelevant and we just gradually crept back up and by nine to 10 minutes we were spot on and I just cantered home really – I didn’t have to use my legs – it’s a real luxury isn’t it!
On learning of Parker’s death, Fox-Pitt said: “I was so sorry to hear that Parklane Hawk has passed away. He was a fantastic horse to have had, and I have some great wins to remember him by. He could not have had a better retirement at Rookery Park Stud where he spent the last few years of his life being totally spoilt. It is very sad for all of his connections that he has come to the end of the road.”
Photo by Hippo Foto