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Just days after being placed at the European Championships in Hagen, Carl Hester’s grand prix horse Escapado has been sold to Dutch breeding stable Exquis, and will now be ridden by Hans Peter Minderhoud.

British team regular Hester bought the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (by Ex Libris x Ikarus) along with Roly Luard from Gut Fuchtel in Vechta, Germany and has been training him for the last nine years.

Jo Bagnall of British Dressage said: “It is always very disappointing to lose a top horse, especially after all the work Carl has put into him”.

Escapado, or Peanuts as he is known at home, has been on the open market since the Athens Olympics. David Trott, chef d’equipe for the British Dressage team at last week’s Europeans, is also very sad to see Escapado go but respects Hester’s decision whole heartedly.

“I have absolutely no ill feelings, Carl and Escapado have done us proud. It is sad, particularly as we are likely to lose [Emile Faurie’s] Livello as well, but there is no money in the game to win and neither of them have any stud value,” he explained.

British Dressage is also sympathetic to the financial demands of the sport: “We understand the pressures owners are under,” says Bagnall.

But all is not doom and gloom for the future of the British team, according to Trott. “We’re losing our top score but have other horses waiting in the wings,” he said. “With Active Walero set to make a comeback now Nicola McGivern is on the road to recovery, and Richard Davison having Hiscox Karachi to take the place of Ballaseyr Royale, things are looking promising.”

Young talent Laura Bechtolsheimer is also looking like a future senior team rider after gaining 70% on Douglas Dorsey in Saumur and having Mistral Hojris nearly ready for grand prix. It is unlikely that Hester himself will be out of the picture for long with Pro-Set almost up to grand prix standard.

“You never know what is going to happen,” said Trott, “at Aachan last year Peanuts was being difficult. It is only over the last year that he has started to perform at such a high standard. Last weekend he finished just 1.6 points behind Anky in the Special, who would have though this possible a year ago?”