Show jumper Ben Maher’s Olympic ride, Rolette, has been sold abroad.
The 10-year-old mare Rolette has been sold to America for “an amount that can’t be turned down”.
The horse’s loss to British show jumping is a crushing blow. Rolette was a British team hopeful for next year’s European Championships, the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2012 Olympics.
“She was more than a potential, she was a guarantee if her health stayed good,” Ben told H&H.
“I’m not going to pretend it won’t affect me, because it will. But that’s life unfortunately.”
He added that the horse has been sold to a big sponsor but that at present neither he nor Rolette’s owner, Daniel Paul, knows which rider she would be placed with.
British show jumping team manager Derek Ricketts said the sale of a horse of Rolette’s calibre was “extremely disappointing”.
“She was so promising, and young enough to go right through to 2012,” he said. “She and Ben proved what an outstanding combination they were in Hong Kong.”
Rumours of a possible sale have been circulating since September, but Ben Maher confirmed to H&H on Monday that the mare would go to the US within a fortnight.
“She has been sold for a lot of money, but I don’t think it’s necessary to say how much,” he said.
“I believe I have a good back-up horse, Robin Hood, and I’ve had reassurance from Derek that I will still be considered — I don’t want to be a ‘one hit and you’re out’.”