Valegro the Olympic gold medal winning horse has had a bronze statue unveiled in his home town of Newent, Gloucestershire. The statue is of Valegro competing for Team GB in a piaffe position in dressage with the union jack depicted on his saddle cloth.
Together with rider Charlotte Durjardin and trainer Carl Hester, Valegro won the individual Gold medal at both London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics as well as Team Gold in London and Team Silver in Rio.
The statue is currently on display at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent and will later be moved to a plinth in the Market Square in Netwent. Charlotte, Carl and Valegro himself were there when the half-life sculpture was unveiled. The statue will compliment the gold postbox in the town that marks Valegros’ and Charlotte’s amazing achievements.
The not-for-profit Newent Initiative Trust stated that it is hoped the statute will attract visitors to the town. Originally it was planned for a full-sized statue but it was decided by the committee and Carl that a half-life, similar to those at Cheltenham racecourse, would be a better fit and not be as costly.
The statute was funded by the creater of the half-life statue, Georgie, making and then selling 12 bronze smaller models of the sculpture. The first statue which was brought by Anne Barrott, who is one of Valegro’s co-owners started the whole process. The other 10 were all sold and then the final one was kindly donated by Georgie and raffled.
Speaking at the unveiling Carl said “Valegro has taken to retirement very well.Under his rug is a big tummy; anyone that knows horses will know that actually the most important thing isn’t gold medals, it’s eating food and he does that very well! He may have retired from competitions but we still have a lot of people who come to the yard to see him so he is a celebrity in his own right. He’s still a star. Many might imagine a gold medallist to be a fiery, wild beast that needed taming but as you can see with Valegro he’s far from it. We have sick and terminally ill children come to the yard and they can ride him, he brings so much pleasure to them. He’s regularly ridden by another Olympian who lives in Newent, Trish Gardner, who’s in her 80s and he takes her round the country lanes, eating the hedges as he goes and they have a fabulous time together twice a week.
Carl went on to thank Georgie for capturing Valegro brilliantly. “He’s captured in a piaffe which is the most difficult thing you can do in dressage. This is probably what Valegro is most famous for and regularly scored perfect 10s for. It’s a classic picture – it’s a 10 statue of a 10 horse. The equestrian community has contributed to this so thank you. Not only through buying replica statues but £1 raffle tickets and we were overwhelmed so many contributed to it as they wanted to see the statue in place. I hope everyone can visit once it’s placed in Newent.”