‘I tried to stop it’: British rider loses two top horses worth €3million

  • Senior British team dressage rider Michael Eilberg has lost the ride on two of his top string of horses.

    Both the black gelding Der Designer (pictured) and the bay gelding Sa Coeur were expensive auction horses before Michael was handed the rides.

    In 2011 Der Designer (by De Niro x Weltmeyer) sold for €1.1m (around £925,000) as a five-year-old at the PSI auction and Sa Coeur (Sir Donnerhall x Don Davidoff) sold for €2.3m (£1.9m) at the same auction a year later.

    Both horses are owned by the Russian Elena Knyaginicheva.

    “Elena decided she wanted to sell them and I wasn’t going to be able to sell them for what she wanted,” Michael told H&H. “She wanted a profit — you know what they cost — and that just wasn’t going to happen. I tried to convince her that the best thing for the horses would be to stay doing what they were doing.”

    Michael had made significant progress with both horses’ training and was preparing to bring them both out at inter II level shortly, with the aim of them both making their debuts at grand prix towards the end of the year.

    Both horses have gone back to Hof Kasselmann’s in Germany. Ulli Kasselmann and Paul Schockemöhle run the PSI Auctions.

    “Rusty [Der Designer] was going so well. You never knew how well he’d do at grand prix as he has a bit of a tricky side, but he was showing all the movements ready for inter II [one-time changes, piaffe and passage] and I hoped he’d go grand prix by the end of the year,” Michael said.

    Rusty left the Eilbergs’ base at the end of 2016, while Sa Coeur stayed on into 2017.

    “I tried to convince them it’d be better if Sa Coeur — who is more of a steady type — stayed and had some big tour results under his belt as the best bet for big money,” added Michael. “So him leaving was a bit more sad as he was a really lovely character. He knew everything and was doing all the moves, and I thought was nearly ready for grand prix. I was disappointed to lose him, that’s for sure.

    “Of course you never know how a horse will be at that level until you try it, but I was really hopeful. But horses move on. It happens; it’s the name of the game.”

    Michael’s last competitive outing with Sa Coeur was at the 2016 British Dressage national championships, where he won both inter I classes with 73% and 76%.

    Since arriving in Germany, both the 10-year-old Sa Coeur and 11-year-old Der Designer have been competed by Hof Kasselmann’s assistant trainer Insa Hansen. In early April, she was third on Der Designer in a national s-level class (just below prix st georges in difficulty) with 68.86% and posted similar scores at the level on Sa Coeur.

    Michael’s career is by no means over. As well as an exciting crop of youngsters, he tested the water at inter II level with the giant Fürst Sinclair, scoring 72% under top judge Sandy Phillips.

    Half Moon Dynasty has also taken tentative steps at grand prix, scoring 67% internationally “with a fair few mistakes — so there’s a lot more potential there”.

    And of course Michael still has his faithful 17-year-old Marakov.

    “Good old Marakov,” he added, “he’s spooky as ever, but he’s a good old boy and has been for a long time — and he’s got a brilliant competition record.”

    All three horses are heading to Saumur CDI next week to compete.

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