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Alan Davies on hacking out Valegro and Uthopia throughout their retirement

  • Can you believe it’s been six years since Valegro made us all cry (again) as he stood with groom Alan Davies, owner Carl Hester and rider Charlotte Dujardin and gazed around at the Olympia crowds during his retirement ceremony in 2016? The great horse, who won 14 championship medals, including three Olympic golds, is now 20 years old and still living out his blissful retirement at Carl’s Gloucestershire yard.

    Valegro and his London 2012 teammate Uthopia, the now 21-year-old stallion ridden to huge success by Carl, are cared for on a daily basis by head groom Alan Davies, who still relishes every moment he spends with “the two favourites of all time”.

    “I still feed them first in the morning and muck them out, keep them clipped in the winter and ride them every day,” he reveals on episode 104 of The Horse & Hound Podcast. “I try to keep them both fit and well and happy, and ticking over. I love them to bits and I do get told off sometimes for spending a bit too much time with them, brushing and generally pampering them. But they deserve it.”

    They may be “happy hackers” nowadays, but the Negro gelding Valegro and Metall stallion Uthopia even excel at that job, according to Alan.

    “They’re amazing to hack, they really are. Valegro is like a police horse. I love riding him so much, and he loves it – you have to kick to come home on him!

    “He loves going out round the roads or the fields, chatting to the neighbours, chatting to the cows on the next farm and anyone can ride him,” Alan says.

    “Uthopia is still quite bouncy even though he’s 21 now, so you do have to have your wits about you. He can get quite excited and likes to do some piaffe and passage sometimes, but he’s not spooky and he is a joy to hack too. They’re both good in traffic and they both still feel amazing. They’re a great joy to look after.”

    And what about Carl and Charlotte – how often do they get back on board this pair of superstars?

    “Occasionally Carl and Charlotte get on them, but I try to keep them to myself most of the time,” laughs Alan. “I don’t really like anyone else riding them and I like to do it myself. If they get on, they tend to want to start doing one-time changes and piaffe-passage and I don’t think the horses need to do too much of that anymore, so I try to keep them off them!”

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    “He’s captured in a piaffe which is the most difficult thing you can do in dressage. This is probably what

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