Ben Maher’s Olympic team gold medal-winning partner Tripple X III has been sold, as part of an ongoing legal wrangle between the showjumper and the horse’s co-owners, Ben’s long-term backers Emma and Mike Phillips.
It has been confirmed that Canadian showjumper Eric Lamaze’s company Torrey Pines has bought the horse, after putting in an offer of €1.4million (£1.1m) earlier this month.
An agreement for the sale of the 12-year-old stallion by Namelus R, who was bred and produced by Ben, was finalised last week (16 April). Due to the dispute between Ben and the Phillipses, the agreement was settled in court.
Ben brought an interim appeal to the High Court to force the horse’s sale earlier this month (10 April) after receiving an offer from Torrey Pines. He believed this was a “one-time offer”, hence the speed of the case.
Both sides had already agreed the horse needed to be sold, but could not agree the terms. Without each party’s consent, a sale of the partnership’s “most valuable asset” could not take place.
Ben’s lawyers claimed “a failure to sell now would lead to decline in value”, as purchasers aiming at the World Equestrian Games would rapidly “fall out of the picture”.
A ‘wasting asset’
Complications between the parties meant the process was held up, despite various offers.
The court heard how, in the middle of March, Eric Lamaze expressed an interest in the horse.
The Phillipses felt the offer “undervalued” Tripple X — especially in light of the sale of Olympic team and individual silver medal winner Eurocommerce London for €8.6m (£7.1m) on 7 April (news, 17 April).
But last week (16 April), after the initial hearing, an agreement was reached between both parties, who “had a clear desire” to sign for a sale.
After the outcome, Ben’s lawyer said in court they were “delighted, albeit late in the day”.
When contacted by H&H afterwards, neither party would comment further.
A blow for British showjumping?
Although the buyer is Canadian showjumper Eric Lamaze — who won individual gold and team silver at the 2008 Olympics with his famous stallion Hickstead — the new rider for Tripple X III has not been confirmed.
When contacted by H&H last week, a spokesman for Eric said he had “no comment at this time”.
Despite victories with the horse in the King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead last summer and at Olympia’s grand prix in December, Tripple X has become Ben’s second string to Cella, the extraordinary grey mare owned by American Jane Clark.
Tripple X III will be the second of Britain’s 2012 team gold horses to be sold, after Peter Charles’ ride Vindicat W was purchased by the Springsteens.