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August 29, 2012

Questions Arise Over Uthopia’s Owners

Uthopia helped Great Britain earn its first team gold at the London Olympics, but now his ownership is being called into question. Photo by Kat Netzler.

After Uthopia earned team dressage gold with Carl Hester at the Olympic Games for Great Britain, conflicting statements emerged concerning his owner.

Hester has never disputed that Uthopia, who was almost sold in December, will most likely be for sale now that the Games are done.

However, Horse & Hound raised the question in their Aug. 23 issue of who currently owns the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Metall—Odelia, Inspekteur).

According to the Fédération Equestre Internationale database, Sasha Stewart, an Irish eventer, and her father, Derek Harrison, owned the stallion until March 31, 2001. From April 1, 2001, through Sept. 13, 2011, Hester is listed as the sole owner. From then on, Hester and Stewart are both listed as owners.

Jacqui Fulton, Hester’s lawyer, told Horse & Hound that Stewart doesn’t own the horse. She cited Stewart’s declaration of bankruptcy in 2010 as the reason for the sale of her portion of the horse to other investors, who have yet to be named.

“What Sasha is saying is, she sold the horse a number of years ago to a private investor, but she’s always been named as the owner because the investor is happy with it, and she likes the glitz and glamour,” said Fulton. “But in reality, she doesn’t own the horse.”

No other investor has emerged at this point. Fulton wouldn’t return the Chronicle’s calls.

Fulton’s statement coincides with Hester’s website, which lists only himself as the owner of “Uti.”

The Portadown Times in Northern Ireland reported on Aug. 9 that Stewart’s father said, “She never owned Uthopia.” He also said she rode Uthopia briefly when the stallion was 3 years old.

However, in a profile published in Horse & Hound on Sept. 15, 2011, Hester and Stewart both spoke about Uti’s progression over the years, Stewart’s involvement in his life, and her decision-making input about Uti’s future, his potential sale and breeding prospects.

Hester, who also declined to respond to the Chronicle, tweeted (@HesterDressage) on Aug. 23, the same day the Horse & Hound story was released, “Think today’s front covers are way too inflammatory – it’s not a story! Investigative journalism- ha!”

 
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