Olympic champion equestrian horses up for sale

LONDON – Three Olympic champions were put up for sale on Wednesday, available to the highest bidder with a reserve price of a mere $30 million.

The names of Valegro, Uthopia, and Alf might be unfamiliar to most Olympic Games viewers. Moreover, these three victors didn't even get rewarded for their triumphs with an official gold medal.

That's because they're horses.

The trio clinched the equestrian dressage team title for Great Britain – with a bit of help from some highly skilled riders, of course – and are now being sold off for what is certain to be an eye-catching sum.

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It is possible that the horses could be bought as a package. Yahoo! Sports understands that interest has already been expressed by "an Arabian royal," according to a source, but unless a bid of well over $30 million is made, the horses will go to auction.

Carl Hester, who owns Valegro and Uthopia and was on the riding team that won gold on Tuesday, admitted the horses would have been sold no matter what the result in London. But victory has naturally pushed up the asking price and Hester has taken the opportunity to cash in.

"It was always the plan to ride them until the Olympics and then they would be sold," Hester told reporters. "They are both very talented young horses, and of course there are plenty of people who would like to take them on.

"I always thought Uthopia would release me from a lifetime of slavery to work. I thought he would be the one to pay off my mortgage and finally free me from these shackles."

[ Photos: All the pretty horses ]

Hester decided to sell after his Irish business partner Sasha Stewart's group of stables was affected by the global economic downturn. Uthopia, who is regarded as one of the finest dressage horses in the world, will command the highest price.

Laura Bechtolsheimer, the owner of Alf and another member of the team, is also accepting offers for her horse, but she will only sell if the price is right.

"Alf's future is up to Alf," she joked.

Great Britain's victory in the event at Greenwich Park was its first-ever medal in team dressage, which had been won by Germany at every Olympics since it was introduced in 1976.

Rafalca, a horse owned by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife Ann, was part of the United States team that finished fourth.

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