A statement has been issued by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) on the results of a necropsy performed on Hickstead:
Preliminary findings from the post mortem on Hickstead, Eric Lamaze's 2008 Olympic gold medal horse that died during the Rolex FEI World Cup? Jumping qualifier at Verona (ITA) on 6 November, have confirmed an aortic rupture, resulting in heart failure.
Further tests are to be conducted to establish the cause of the rupture, but these tests will take a number of weeks to complete and may prove inconclusive.
The 15-year-old stallion collapsed and died after completing his round of jumping with just four faults. Eric Lamaze (CAN) was uninjured in the incident.
"The sudden loss of any horse, but especially one with the character and history of Hickstead is a shock to everyone, but our thoughts are especially with Eric Lamaze and John Fleischhacker at this difficult time", said FEI Veterinary Director Graeme Cooke.
"Under FEI regulations any equine death at an FEI event must be investigated and a post mortem undertaken. The preliminary findings have revealed a catastrophic rupture of the major blood vessel, the aorta, which very rapidly led to heart failure. This is an unusual incident in Jumping and while we are investing the very many possible causes of a rupture of this nature, it is possible we may never know the real reason behind it."
Thanks to the FEI for providing that information and the photo, which is by Kit Houghton.