As our special issue including a pull-out Valegro tribute hits the news stands today (22 December), we take a look back at what his connections had to say when he retired from competition at Olympia last week (14 December)

Carl Hester, trainer

“When did I realise I had a superstar on my hands? When Charlotte told me I suppose! He’s known as the professor and he’s been a champion every year. But it was at his first grand prix we were able to see that he was able to take what he’d learnt at home into the ring — which is a very difficult thing to do. Working with him has been one of the best journeys of my life — it’s helped me as a trainer and without this amazing horse, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m the lucky one — most people get to watch him once a year and I get to watch him everyday. I’m very, very fortunate.”

Charlotte Dujardin, rider

“As everyone can see he absolutely loves performing — the more the crowds scream and shout, the better he is. I wanted to retire him at the top of his game, because he owes me nothing, and now the pressure is off and we can go around and enjoy ourselves — and he deserves that. It’s the most incredible feeling when you come into an arena like this. Doing the freestyle tonight felt absolutely incredible. Valegro is just the best, and I know that sounds really silly, but he is in every way the perfect horse. He has the biggest heart in the whole world.”

Richard Waygood, former British dressage performance manager

“It’s absolutely amazing what Valegro has done for dressage. What you have with him is not only his ability to perform the technical skills so well, but he also has the character to go with it.  But going into a post-Valegro era there’s a sense of excitement, because we’ve got four horses who are scoring above 75% and so we will be competitive at the Europeans next year.”

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Richard Davison, top British dressage rider and trainer

“In my time in the sport — which is 40 years – I’ve never seen a horse like Valegro. Frankly he is the greatest — he is the Muhammad Ali of this sport. But he also needs a fantastic rider, and I think it is the alchemy between those three [Valegro, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester], that has given us the privilege of watching the greatest combination together.”

Alan Davies, Valegro’s travelling groom

“It’s crazy because he’s not going anywhere, we’re still going to have him at home, but the wave of emotion from the public behind us is just incredible.”

Today our Valegro tribute issue has hit the news stands (22 December) — with a 16-page pull-out dedicated to the dressage sensation