Valegro was the guest of honour as a bronze statue of him in piaffe was unveiled in his home town Newent, Gloucestershire.
The Newent Initiative Trust was behind the project – with involvement from Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and groom Alan Davies – and Georgie Welch was the sculptor. The statue was unveiled yesterday (27 October), and will complement the existing gold post box in honour of Charlotte’s London 2012 achievements.
A spokesman for the not-for-profit Newent Initiative Trust said it is hoped the statute will attract visitors to the town.
“Originally it had been planned to be a full-sized statue but it was decided by the committee and Carl that a half-life, similar to those at Cheltenham racecourse, would be a better fit and not be as costly,” said the spokesman.
“Georgie won the chance to make the statue in 2018 and has been working with Carl, Alan and Valegro (with, I am told, a lot of packets of Polos) to produce this wonderful statue, which will be going up by Market House in Newent soon after this unveiling.”
The statute was funded by selling 12 bronze maquettes, smaller models of the sculpture.
“Eleven were sold and the final one was kindly donated by Georgie and raffled. We would like to thank all the people who bought maquettes, particularly Anne Barrott (one of Valegro’s co-owners) who without hesitating, and having not even seen one, bought the first and most expensive maquette, which started the whole process,” said the spokesman.
“This statute was in effect funded by equestrian people for an equestrian purpose, to celebrate a wonderful horse.”
Carl, who attended the unveiling with Charlotte, Alan and Valegro, thanked the Newent Initiative Team, and said to follow the gold post box with a statue is “so exciting”.
“Valegro has taken to retirement very well,” said Carl. “Under his rug is a big tummy; anyone that knows horses will know that actually the most important thing isn’t gold medals, it’s eating food and he does that very well! He may have retired from competitions but we still have a lot of people who come to the yard to see him so he is a celebrity in his own right. He’s still a star.
“Many might imagine a gold medallist to be a fiery, wild beast that needed taming but as you can see with Valegro he’s far from it. We have sick and terminally ill children come to the yard and they can ride him, he brings so much pleasure to them. He’s regularly ridden by another Olympian who lives in Newent, Trish Gardner, who’s in her 80s and he takes her round the country lanes, eating the hedges as he goes and they have a fabulous time together twice a week.”
Carl thanked Georgie for “capturing Valegro brilliantly”.
“He’s captured in a piaffe which is the most difficult thing you can do in dressage. This is probably what Valegro is most famous for and regularly scored perfect 10s for. It’s a classic picture – it’s a 10 statue of a 10 horse,” he said.
“The equestrian community has contributed to this so thank you. Not only through buying replica statues but £1 raffle tickets and we were overwhelmed so many contributed to it as they wanted to see the statue in place. I hope everyone can visit once it’s placed in Newent.”
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Gloucestershire-based Georgie, who formerly worked with horses and specialises in animal sculptures, told H&H it had been “ a dream come true” meeting Valegro.
“I competed in dressage when I was younger and loved it so to meet such an amazing horse like Valegro was a lifetime ambition, and to sculpt him was just the icing on the cake,” she said.
“Carl, Charlotte and Alan have been fantastic and been involved all the way along. They know him better than anybody, not just his character but his shape and manner of movement which I wanted to capture in the piaffe he’s performing in the bronze,” she said.
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