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‘The best horse in the world’: farewell to gold medal-winning stallion

The dressage world is mourning the sudden death of Desperados FRH, the German Olympic gold medal-winning stallion.

The De Niro x Wolkenstein II son, winner of eight championship medals with Kristina Broring-Sprehe, died from an aortic rupture following his stud duties in December, aged 19.

“I still can’t believe that he is not with us any more. Shortly before, he was in such a good mood and full of energy. I cannot express in words how sad I am — just devastated,” Kristina told H&H.

Kristina teamed up with “Despi” in 2010 following the stallion’s successful young horse career and the pair have been stalwarts of the German team over the past decade. They helped Germany win team gold medals at the 2013 Europeans, 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) and 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as Olympic silver behind Britain in 2012, and European bronze in 2015.

Individually they took bronze at Rio and WEG, and claimed individual silver in the freestyle at the 2015 Aachen Europeans, just 0.25% behind Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.

“Despi has shaped my career and I would have loved to give him the retirement he deserved so much,” Kristina said. “In my head everything was already prepared — the field behind our new house and so much more.

“He was a real fighter, my best friend and sports partner. He never let me down and he was always reliable. He loved the attention and knew that he was very special. He is and will always be, my ‘once in a lifetime horse’ — for me the best horse in the world for ever and ever.”

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The stallion had more than a year out of action due to injury between November 2016 and March 2018. He returned to compete three times in 2018, with good results, but the Frankfurt CDI4* in December 2018 was to be his final show, although he was never formally retired from sport.

Desperados was also very successful as a dressage sire, with 35 licensed sons and several of his offspring competing at grand prix. These include the 11-year-old Destiny OLD, out of a Sandro Hit mare, who achieved his first international grand prix win at the Neumunster World Cup qualifier with Kristina on the morning that his sire died.

“I hope that Despi’s son Destiny will follow in his footsteps one day,” Kristina said. “He improved a lot during the last weeks and I am looking forward to the next shows with him.”

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