American rider McLain Ward’s talented two-time Olympic gold medal partner, Sapphire, has died.

Ward posted this notice on his Facebook page today:
“With a very heavy heart I have to share that Sara has passed away this morning due to complications from colic. Our entire Castle Hill family and every person she has touched has lost a great friend. Thank you Sara not just for all the dreams you made come true but simply for being who you were. You always will be my champion in every way. God speed good friend.”

In addition to team gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and a team silver medal at the 2006 WEG, Sapphire had competed in six World Cup Finals and won both the CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows (2009) and the Pfizer $1 Million in Saugerties, NY (2010). Other high-profile, big-money classes she won include the $100,000 President’s Cup at the Washington International (2008 & 2010), the Longines Grand Prix of La Baule (2010), the Grand Prix of Rome (2010), the $250,000 FTI Grand Prix at the Hampton Classic (2009), and the $200,000 American Invitational (2008).

The 19-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare had been retired from international competition since the spring of 2012.