Ian Wilson, managing director of Wilsons Auctions, the auction house responsible for the sale of Olympic gold medal winning horse Uthopia last night in Belfast, has said the horse’s tale is “a sad story”.

He also said he was not familiar with the name of the winning bidder, who was present in the auction room and proffered £165,000 for the 15-year-old stallion by Metall.

“We know the registered details but we’re yet to speak to them,” he told H&H on Friday night. “The bid is possibly on behalf of someone else. I can’t say I recognise the bidder’s name.

“We really hope the horse is staying in the home he’s sleeping in tonight.”

Having received criticism for selling Uthopia but not being horse specialists, Ian was quick to point out that the horse’s marketing partly took care of itself.

“Anyone interested in the horse knew more about it than we did. We have people trained in testing and inspecting cars, but not horses. But the best people have given their opinions on Uthopia; Olympic vets and riders.

“Throughout this process Carl Hester has been very very helpful. He seems like a genuinely nice person and I really hope he’s already had a call.”

Ian was confident that Wilsons Auctions could expose Uthopia to the largest possible global audience to achieve the highest market price possible.

“For traffic, our website is in the top half of the top 1% in the world. I don’t have exact figures but looking at the map of the hits around the world is mindblowing,” Ian told H&H. “So when we put something on the site, a lot of people see it.

“We were very keen that people had the opportunity to bid from anywhere online.”

He added: “Now we’ve done our job with Uthopia and the buyer has a couple of days to pay.

“It’s a sad story though and I wish someone had involved me four years ago and then I don’t think we would be sitting here today.”

Ian is a keen horseman himself, having been out eventing the previous week and a regular on the hunting field.

Uthopia was sold by Tom Keenan (Keenan Corporate Finance) and James Neill (HNH Group). Mr Keenan and Neill had held joint ownership of the horse by virtue of their respective roles as trustee in bankruptcy over two separate bankruptcy estates — Sasha Stewart and her father Derek Harrison.