‘I know in my heart this is the best decision for him’: stallion who became Tokyo Olympics sensation is retired

  • The stallion who led the USA team to silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Sanceo, has been retired.

    The San Remo son and his rider Sabine Schut-Kery became the talk of Tokyo when they pulled off one stunning performance after another, securing team silver ahead of Britain in bronze, and finishing individual fifth with 84.3% in the freestyle. The pair also won widespread praise for their harmonious partnership and Sanceo’s classical way of going.

    Sanceo has not competed since the Tokyo Olympics, having been withdrawn from contention for the 2022 World Dressage Championships, and it has now been decided that he will not return to sport. The stallion has left Sabine’s California base and returned to his owners, Alice Womble-Heitmann and Mike Heitmann, in Texas.

    “Since our wonderful Sanceo was just three years old, he has given everything he can to all that is asked of him; always inspiring us and always giving 100% to anything put in his way….and it’s because of this, we have made the decision to retire him from competitive sport,” said Sabine, as she announced the news with an emotional tribute to Sanceo.

    “We have learned so much together and he has always been there for me, and I keep this in my heart as we make this difficult but also exciting decision to let him finish his performance career on a high, with happiness, memories, and while he is in good health.

    “I will always cherish the unbreakable bond that led us to achieving our goals, through to his big finale in Tokyo.”

    Sanceo retired: ‘We made memories that will last a lifetime’

    The Hanoverian stallion was approved for breeding in 2017, and Sabine said that “his legacy will continue through his breeding duties”.

    “In these past three months together, we have just enjoyed each other’s company, as I reflected on the journey that we have been on and how special this horse has been to me and my life. His kindness and intelligence has still shone through each day; still fascinating me and inspiring me. We had such a strong partnership and together with his perfectionist mind and his incredible talent, we have made memories that will last a lifetime.

    “Walking into the barn every day without his cheerful face will take a little getting used to, but I know in my heart this is the best decision for him,” Sabine added.

    “He will always have a very special place in my heart and I look forward to many more visits with him.”

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