German dressage rider Nadine Capellmann bought Zancor from Swedish owner Monica Lindstedt last week in a deal that leaves Danish Olympian Per Sandgaard without a horse to compete at international level.

Capellmann has been looking for a grand prix horse since she sold Cockney last November and lost her great partner Farbenfroh (pictured) in late December. Zancor, who took Danish rider Per Sandgaard to the Olympics, fits the bill. The 14-year-old Swedish warmblood was 10th in the individual dressage in Athens and fifth in the team competition, averaging 70.667%. Sandgaard and Zancor were also crowned Danish dressage champions last year.

Capellmann tried the gelding at the end of last year and completed the deal last week. She told HHO: “Zancor had attracted my attention during the whole of the last competition season. When he was offered to me I tried him out and bought him spontaneously. He gives the rider a very good feeling.”

While Capellmann rejoices, former rider Sandgaard is distraught. “I must admit it was one of saddest moment in my life. [Zancor] was very special, had very special character. He was very sensitive, and it took me a long time to make him confident in me and in the show arena,” he says. “For me it is very personal, it is not just the ambition because we could have maybe gone even further [together]. On a personal level, it is quite hard.”

Sandgaard had been riding the gelding for the last three years, taking him from elementary dressage level to the Olympics. Just two months ago they placed third in the Stockholm World Cup qualifier and Sandgaard said Zancor was not for sale.

”I knew [the owner] was interested in selling — I was just hoping he was not so attractive on the market,” he says. “I had a sponsor who was interested in buying Zancor so I could keep riding him but the owner wanted more money [than we could afford].”

The Danish rider now has no grand prix mount is his stable. “You know how it is: when you don’t have a horse, you’re out of the sport. [My] sponsor and I may try to find another, but it is not so easy and it will take time. It took me three-and-a-half years to take Zancor to the level he was [at],” he says. “I have seen some horses but also depends on how much money [you can spend]. I won’t be back next month. You never know when you’ll be back again. It’s not like other sports where it all depends on yourself – but [this] is also what makes it special when you succeed. You learn to taste it when it happens because you know how hard it is.”

The sale also comes as a blow to the Danish Equestrian Federation, which has lost two top horses in two years. Before Zancor, Lone Jorgensen’s Sydney and WEG mount, Kennedy, was sold to the US in 2003.

“Zancor is Swedish-owned but a lot of good horses are sold because there isn’t enough money to buy and keep horses in Denmark,” says Sandgaard. “It was a big loss for the team, because we don’t have [the breadth of choice as they have] in Germany or Holland, where they say: we take next in the line.”

It is expected that Cappellmann and Zancor will make their competition debut together in March.