“Unhappy end” for Carl Hester as Uthopia goes up for auction

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Charlotte Dujardin and Windsor CDI3* winner Uthopia.
Charlotte Dujardin and Uthopia at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2014.

British Olympic dressage horse Uthopia is to be sold without reserve next month at auction following an ongoing legal case surrounding his ownership.

In a statement released a few hours ago, Uthopia’s rider Carl Hester “with great sadness” announced that he no longer had any claim to part ownership of the horse.

Uthopia will be sold by Wilsons Auctions as part of their Prestige Auction on Friday, May 27.

Carl Hester and Uthopia.
Carl Hester and Uthopia. “We are working hard to find a solution so he can spend his retirement here at home.”

“It’s been a distressing experience for us all and with a very unhappy end,” Hester said.

“Uti has been part of the family for 11 years and is a yard favourite. Quite simply, I’m appalled that it’s come down to this. I’m already working hard to find backers to help me buy him and give him the very best care in retirement he deserves. I owe him so much and my immediate concern is for the horse’s welfare. I just want him home to spend the rest of his days at our yard, cared for by those who adore him.”

Uthopia is a Dutch-bred dark bay stallion by Metall, born in 2001 and was found by Hester as a four year old. With Hester riding, he won a total of five Championship medals including Olympic Team Gold in 2012 and two individual silvers at the 2011 European Championships.

With Charlotte Dujardin in the saddle, Uthopia had qualified for the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Gothenburg earlier this month, but the ownership issues meant the combination was unable to compete. Dujardin had ridden Uthopia in his last 10 major events, since March 2014.

Uthopia has previously been the subject of an ownership dispute; after the London 2012 Olympics, when he was ridden to team gold by Hester, issues over his ownership blocked the stallion’s potential sale.

On the FEI database the 15-year-old stallion’s owners are listed as Carl Hester and Sasha Stewart, since September 2011.

Uthopia is being sold by Tom Keenan (Keenan Corporate Finance) and James Neill (HNH Group) who hold joint ownership of the horse by virtue of their respective roles as Trustee in Bankruptcy over two separate bankruptcy estates.

Alongside Uthopia, the auction will also include a selection of supercars, prestige jewellery, watches, designer goods and more.

Wilsons Auctions said Uthopia would reside at his current stable yard and be cared for by the same people throughout the sale process.

The judges watch as Carl Hester and Uthopia perform their test.
Olympic judges watch as Carl Hester and Uthopia perform their test at Greenwich Park, helping Great Britain to team dressage gold. © London 2012

“We recognise the importance of maintaining the level of expert care and attention that the horse has previously enjoyed,” the company said.

“It is of course possible that he may continue to reside at his current stable yard after the sale has concluded, dependent of course on the identity and intentions of the purchaser. It is our wish that the eventual purchaser enjoys owning the horse for many years to come.”

Interested bidders are asked to register their interest by emailing uthopia@wilsonsauctions.com.

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