sport

Syndicate aims to buy Olympic star

Charlotte Dujardin has revealed attempts are being made at keeping London 2012 star horse Valegro in Britain.

Double Olympic dressage champion Dujardin revealed attempts are being made to form an owners' syndicate.

Speculation has been rife about the horse's future since Dujardin and Valegro - nicknamed Blueberry - won team and individual gold at Greenwich Park four months ago.

Co-owned by Roly Luard and Dujardin's mentor and Olympic team-mate Carl Hester, Valegro would comfortably command a seven-figure sum as arguably the most valuable horse in world dressage.

The combination will be reunited at next week's London International Horse Show, competing in the two-day Reem Acra FEI World Cup event that Dujardin won last year.

And the 27-year-old British equestrian star has told Press Association Sport that moves to put a syndicate together are under way.

There are no guarantees it will happen, but the possibility of Dujardin riding Valegro next year during a season that culminates with the European Championships in Herning, Denmark cannot be discounted.

If so, it would continue the most successful partnership British dressage has known.

Dujardin and the 10-year-old gelding were part of Britain's European title-winning team in Rotterdam last year, then won Olympia before setting a new world record for the grand prix special discipline and arriving at London 2012 as gold medal favourites.

They delivered in spectacular fashion, setting three new Olympic records on the way to double gold, and wowing a capacity crowd with a freestyle to music test that featured excerpts from Land of Hope and Glory, Live and Let Die and The Great Escape, interspersed by Big Ben's chimes.

That gold medal-winning routine will be repeated in its entirety at Olympia next week.

"We are currently trying to put a syndicate together," Dujardin said. "We are trying to find people and find a way of keeping Blueberry in the country. If that doesn't happen, then he will be sold.

"It would be great if we could keep him in the country and keep the ride.

"I honestly don't know what is going to happen with the whole situation. I will be very grateful if he is still there (next year), and if he is not then I am very lucky because I have got some fabulous young horses to keep me busy.

"It's not quite the same as Blueberry, but it is great to be training all the young ones. I love doing it and you never really know what you've got until you are there."

The combination took part in last month's British Dressage Convention at Hartpury, just down the road from Dujardin's Gloucestershire base, but Olympia will represent their return to serious competitive action.

Great Britain team-mate Hester is also in the 18-strong field with his Olympic horse Uthopia, while German star Isabell Werth and the Dutch pair Edward Gal and Imke Schellekens-Bartels are also confirmed entries.

Dujardin admits she is feeling the pressure as Olympia looms large.

"Training has been good. He is feeling very fresh, keen and excited," she added. "I did the convention last month, which he thoroughly enjoyed. The crowd went mad for him and it was a good warm-up before Olympia.

"It was always my dream to ride at Olympia. I managed to win it last year and I would love to win the grand prix and freestyle this time to top my year off.

"But I feel more pressure than ever, really, and for me to be saying that is quite something!

"Normally it would not worry me, but I think I have done so much and done so well that if I don't finish my year the way I want to finish it I will probably be very disappointed.

"All I can do is go out there, try my best and enjoy it. I know Blueberry is going to enjoy it.

"I want to maintain what I have been able to do and when you haven't competed for a few months it is hard to just go out and do a big one like Olympia. It's really tough."