Whitaker ride sold for seven-figure sum

  • Scottish show jumping owner Graham Gillespie has sold his mare Sandy, who has won major classes with Michael Whitaker, to German rider Pia-Luise Aufrecht for a price reputed to be in excess of £1 million.

    Graham bought the nine-year-old through dealer Ernst Hofschroer earlier this year. An amateur rider had partnered her in Germany but since Michael Whitaker took over, Sandy has gone from strength to strength.

    After finishing runner-up in the gentlemen’s championship at Royal Windsor, she impressed Michael’s international rivals on the Spruce Meadows summer tour, where she won several major classes.

    Pia-Luise has been a good customer for British-produced horses. Her first buy from the Gillespie brothers was another of Michael’s former rides, Abrisca, who has since partnered the 27-year-old on Super League Nations Cup teams. In December last year,
    Pia-Luise finalised her purchase of Limbo, who had carried Andrew Davies to victory in the grand prix at Belfast the week before.

    “In a ideal world, we would keep our best horses to represent Britain, but when you get an offer like this it’s almost impossible to turn it down,” says Graham. “As everyone knows, you can refuse to sell a horse and the next day it will damage itself in the stable.”

    Graham and his brother, Gary, have been great supporters of British show jumping, including owning three of the horses on the team at the Sydney Olympics.

    Among the horses they have produced are Billy Twomey’s Nations Cup ride, Anastasia; Conquest, the stallion ridden by Billy to victory in a World Cup qualifier before being going to America’s Beezie Madden; Michael Whitaker’s Sydney Olympic ride, Prince Of Wales, Catapult, a contemporary of Arko in young horse classes before her sale to American rider Candice King, and Tornedo, who won a World Cup qualifier at the age of seven and is now greatly in demand as a stallion.

    “Michael and I will be off on a ‘shopping trip’ soon and we’ll be looking for some more to add to the list,” adds Graham.

  • This story was first published in Horse & Hound (25 November 04)

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