Backers sought to keep Valegro in the UK

  • As Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin delighted the crowds at Olympia, defending their titles and breaking another world record in the process, work was going on behind the scenes to try to keep the horse in British hands.

    Owners Carl Hester and Roly Luard are seeking to form a syndicate to buy 49% of the 10-year-old Negro gelding.

    They want to raise £2.5million by 31 January.

    In a letter, sent to a few select friends and contacts, Mrs Luard said large sums had been offered from other European countries.

    “But in order to keep him on home ground with the same rider and trainer, we are willing to compromise the price we could receive for him,” she explained.

    “Carl is further willing to underwrite the day-to-day costs of keeping Valegro.”

    Mrs Luard told H&H that the aim was to keep the syndicate small and manageable.

    To this end, they are looking for members who can invest sizeable sums.

    The first syndicate members have pledged £500,000 and they are looking for others who can invest in the region of £250,000.

    “We believe his value to British Dressage and the nation, who appear to have well and truly taken him to their hearts, is priceless,” said Mrs Luard.

    Speaking after Charlotte and Valegro’s record-breaking test, Carl said the syndicate represented the chance to become involved with “a massive success story and a truly great partnership”.

    He added: “I’m sure he’s going to win gold medals for at least another six years.”

    At Olympia (17 December) Charlotte and Valegro scored 84.447% in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup leg, setting a new grand prix world record.

    The following night, they won the kur on a score of 87.95% — nearly 8% ahead of Isabell Werth and Don Johnson.

    If Blueberry can be kept at Carl’s yard in Newent, Glos, the plan is to campaign him lightly, only attending the major national and international championships.

    “The longer-term aim is being part of the British team at the Rio Olympics and to have some fun competing him lightly in the meantime,” said Mrs Luard.

    At Olympia Carl Hester and Uthopia had what could be their final performance as a partnership, as Carl says the horse is to be sold in the new year.

    However, an injunction — arising from a dispute over the horse’s ownership — prevents the horse from travelling abroad, which makes it unfeasible for Carl to campaign him as international grand prix horse.

    “It was an emotional night,” said Carl.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (28 December 2012)

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