‘Most expensive horse ever sold’ at young horse auction wins on his 5* debut at Royal Windsor

  • The much-admired nine-year-old Viper Z took an impressive win for Martin Fuchs [SUI] on his CSI5* debut, topping a thrilling 11-strong jump off in Royal Windsor’s Defender challenge stakes.

    The Vigo D’Arsouilles x Grannus gelding, who is owned by Luigi Baleri, was bought in September 2021, and was the most expensive horse ever sold at the Dutch Sport Horse sales. The hammer went down at €750,000, smashing the sale’s previous record of €450,000.

    “It was very nice for him to start his first 5* with a 1.50m win,” Martin said, adding that there is “always pressure” when producing a horse, regardless of its price tag.

    “He was already good when we got him, although still quite green, and could be a little bit tense in some of the arenas, so usually he gets better by the day at a show. I always knew he’d be a grand prix horse and win a lot of classes.

    “A lot of people know him from the auction and they ask me ‘which one is this?’ and I say ‘yes, it’s the expensive one!’” Martin said.

    A quick opening round on this striking dark bay earned Martin a useful late draw in the jump off, enabling him to make the most of the gelding’s ground speed and care to steal a 0.05sec advantage over leaders Daniel Deusser [GER] and Kiana Van Het Herdershof.

    British riders filled the next three spots on the leaderboard, with 23-year-old Jodie Hall McAteer in close third with Kimosa Van Het Kritrahof Z, and William Funnell hot on her heels with Equine America Billy Marmite in fourth.

    Ben Maher collected fifth with the ultra-scopey nine-year-old Enjeu De Grisien, while the previous day’s victor Lily Attwood set the fastest time of the class with a valiant effort on Karibou Horta, but caught an oxer three from home behind.

    Bernardo Costa Cabral’s second round track had asked all sorts of questions, with open gallops, angle options and turns.

    “I had a good starting position, so I could watch a few of the riders. I already walked the second round during the first, so I knew it would suit my horse,” Martin said.

    “Basically just everywhere had to be tight but still keep the canter up — my horse is naturally very quick and very careful.”

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