British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) president John Hales has secretly bought a younger full-brother of his champion jumping stallion Arko III (pictured) at auction in Germany.
Mr Hales suffered disappointment when Arko, ridden by Nick Skelton, missed the World Equestrian Games (WEG) last month due to loss of form linked to a stress injury.
But now Mr Hales is celebrating “a real coup”, and putting his money where his mouth is by answering his own calls for investment in horsepower for British riders for the London 2012 Olympics and beyond (Talk yourself horse, 10 August).
On 26 August, as WEG was drawing to a close, the Telford-based owner paid €130,000 (£88,625) for the five-month-old colt, by Argentinus out of a Beach Boy mare.
Mr Hales kept his interest in the colt anonymous and enlisted a representative at the Elite Sales International auction in Lastrup. The colt’s price-tag is understood to set a record for a foal at auction in Germany.
“We kept it so hush-hush that the Germans think he’s going to America,” said Mr Hales. “I was told about him before the auction and tried to make the owner an offer before the sale, with no luck. I knew everyone would be after him, but I just couldn’t let Arko’s brother go to the opposition.”
The foal, now called Rako, who was weaned on the day of the sale, will arrive in the UK in the next few weeks. He will initially be based at Mr Hales’s yard, before moving to Cheshire to be broken in and produced by Kim Belton.
Mr Hales added that his daughter Lisa was heading to Holland, where Rako is now based with friends, to scout for other horses.
He said she was also seeking planning permission to build an international arena and training facilities at her Shropshire yard with the specific aim of developing horses for London’s 2012 Olympics.
Mr Hales has recently bought two Hanoverians, also from Germany — the seven-year-old gelding Lapacco and six-year-old stallion Concas — with the 2012 Games in mind.
As reported in H&H (news, 30 March), he is talking to racing industry figures about investing in more OIympic show jumpers. Another idea is the formation of an elite 2012 squad of horses under the management of David Broome and Derek Ricketts.
BEF performance manager Will Connell welcomed news of “the Rako coup”. He also said he believed that Britain’s show jumping team would have qualified for the 2008 Beijing (Hong Kong) Olympics at WEG had Arko been on top form and jumped.
- Don’t miss next week’s H&H for the low-down on industry plans to boost elite horsepower across all disciplines.