Laura Collett says she is the “happiest girl in the world” after confirmation that her top ride, Rayef, will be staying with her for the rest of his life.

Laura had been trying to form a syndicate to keep the ride on the 14-year-old bay gelding. Rayef’s owner, Jason Houghton, is understood to be going through a divorce.

But yesterday, Mr Houghton told Laura that he will not sell — and Laura can keep Rayef when he retires.

“I am so relieved and grateful that he is staying with me for life,” said Laura.

“Anyone who knows me knows that Rayef is genuinely part of the family,” she told H&H.

“He’s done so much for me and my career — he owes me nothing.”

Rayef, who is being aimed at Badminton, was long-listed for the London Olympics. The pair won team and individual gold at the junior Europeans in 2007 and the young rider Europeans in 2009.

He was eighth on his Badminton debut in 2011, gaining Laura her first senior squad call-up, for the European Championships that year.

The 23-year-old rider explained that she had not been able to raise enough money to form the syndicate. She was hoping to sell 25 shares at £5,000 each — putting Rayef’s value at £125,000 for a two-year lease of ownership.

After speaking to agents, Mr Houghton decided it would not be worth his while selling Rayef. Laura will cover the horse’s running costs and give any prize-money to the owner.