Carl Hester’s Olympic partner, Uthopia, is to be sold at auction without reserve. The news has taken the equestrian world by storm, dismaying dressage fans across Britain and beyond.
According to a statement on the Wilsons Auctions’ website, Uthopia is being sold by Tom Keenan of Keenan Corporate Finance and James Neill of HNH Group “who hold joint ownership of the horse by virtue of their respective roles as Trustee in Bankruptcy over two separate bankruptcy estates.”
“Fans suggested launching a crowdfunding initiative to buy the stallion”
The Dutch warmblood stallion, by Metall out of Odelia, will go under the hammer on May 27, alongside jewellery, supercars and designer products. The auction has no reserve and is open to online bidding.
The news caused an outcry, with many people declaring on Twitter that Uthopia should stay with Hester and the people who love him. Carl Hester himself announced on his Facebook page that he is looking for backers to help him keep the stallion: “Many of you will have read the sad news that Uthopia will go to auction due to the unresolved dispute over his ownership. We are working hard to find a solution so he can spend his retirement here at home.”
A Hester supporter, Donna Ellis, has even suggested launching a crowdfunding initiative to help the Olympic rider purchase the horse.
Uthopia’s auction would appear to be linked to an earlier bankruptcy of former event rider Sasha Stewart. In the past, Horse & Hound had highlighted a mystery over Uthopia’s ownership.
Although the FEI showed the horse as belonging to Stewart, with a minority stake owned by Hester, Stewart’s father, Derek Harrison denied this. A legal dispute over Uthopia’s ownership ensued, leading to the horse being auctioned off.