The 2011 European champion and 2008 Olympic team silver medallist Ninja La Silla will officially retire in front of rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s home crowd at the Rolex FEI World Cup final at Gothenburg, Sweden, on 26 April.
The now 18-year-old chestnut Guidam gelding was one of the greatest showjumpers of all time and had a huge public following.
From 2006 to 2011, Ninja and Rolf competed at all six international championships. As well as their European title and Olympic silver, the pair finished seventh individually at the 2009 European Championships at Windsor and were sixth at WEG 2010 in Kentucky.
Rolf had hoped to ride Ninja at the 2012 London Olympics — with his sights set firmly on gold — but a virus picked up early last year proved a massive set-back to his preparations. The legendary partnership were last seen together when helping Sweden win the Nations Cup on home soil in July.
“It has been an honour for me to ride such a fantastic horse and I’m very thankful to [owner] Alfonso Romo for giving me the opportunity to ride him,” said Rolf. “To be part of the journey that Ninja La Silla and I have had together with such great results in the championships is something that every rider wishes for.
“Ninja La Silla has a fantastic personality and is not just a horse, he is a friend and he really deserves to be thanked off on home soil in front of the Swedish crowds at Gothenburg Horse Show.”
Rolf summed up his beloved 16hh gelding to H&H: “He isn’t the one that comes forward to people — they offer him candies but he’s a bit shy. He may be small, but he’s brave and honest.”
Ninja La Silla will spend his retirement in the fields at Stud La Silla in Mexico, where he will be looking after and taking care of the youngsters.
It was also annonunced that the partnership between Alfonso Romo’s La Silla Stud and Rolf will end after the World Cup final in Gothenburg. The decision was said be “agreed upon in a friendly mutual understanding and reflects changes in the business concept of both parties.”
The top stallions Casall La Silla and Quintero La Silla will remain with Rolf as he aims to defend his European title in Denmark this summer. All the other La Silla horses ridden by Rolf will return to Mexico as the owner wants them to be used to support the Mexican team.