Hello, Gorgeous!

By September 30, 2015
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As with so many celebrities, Hello Santcos underwent a name change in pursuit of fame. The Belgian Warmblood was at birth christened Sanctos van het Gravenhof.
(Photo illustration by Paula Parisi / The Equestrian News)

Hickstead, Sapphire, Shutterfly and now Hello Sanctos.  Mega-watt equine luminaries, all. Over the years, their presence on the international show jumping circuit seeming to channel Pegasus himself. Today’s top A-lister, Hello Sanctos, is a 13-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding ridden by Scott Brash. The pair, who ride for Great Britain, began their supernova ascent at the London 2012 Olympics, where they helped earn team gold.

Brash turns 30 in November 2015.

The duo has  jumped to spectacular effect on the Global Championship Tour, scoring back to back series wins in 2013 and 2014 in show jumping’s richest series. With earnings that were already starting to look like race horse money, the pair was stellar at the Spruce Meadows Masters, winning the CP Grand Prix and the Rolex Grand Slam, a $1.8 million payday for three consecutive victories in the Rolex series.

Brash currently sits at No. 1 on the Longines GCT rankings and No. 1 on the Longines FEI world rider rankings, thanks largely to his top horse and the support of its owners, Hello Stables. If this duo’s enchanted life conjures a fairy tale, the story of their pairing sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a Dick Francis thriller.

Sanctos came into the world May 13, 2002, by Quasimode van de Molendreef (by Heartbraker), out of Nasia van het Gravenhof (by Naba de Rêve). His breeder, Belgium’s Willy Taets, registered the colt Sanctos van het Gravenhof. In 2010 U.S. rider Peter Wylde purchased the horse, successfully campaigning him for a year before selling him to Ukrainian financier Alexander Onishenko, who had Olympic aspirations for his top rider, Katharina Offel.

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Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos win the Longines GCT Grand Prix in Estoril (CSI5* 1.60m). The team exhibits both precision and poetry on course July 11 in Cacsais, Portugal. (Photo: Stefano Grasso / Longines Global Champions Tour)

When Offel and Onishenko unexpectedly parted ways in October 2011, word leaked out that the horse might be available. England prevailed in a stealthy bid that is now the stuff of legend.  Lord Philip Harris recruited his former Olympic rider, David Broome, for a top secret mission: fly to Düsseldorf, check the horse out and, if warranted, acquire him, but quietly — out from under the American, Middle Eastern and German buyers who might also be circling.

Broom brought along Scott Brash, who after 45 minutes on the horse urged that the deal go through. Harris bought the animal, sight unseen (though he’d been poring over videos). He told The Independent in a May 2012 interview, “We think we’ve got one of the best horses in the world. He’d only had three fences down in 30 grand prix events so we had to get in very, very quickly. Such was the competition, we had to keep very quiet about it.” Though Harris never divulged the price, it was reported at $3 million.

They made the Dec. 31, 2011 registration deadline for the 2012 Olympic Games. Harris brought in a partner, Lord Graham Kirkham, a furniture magnate, and the owners of record became the men’s wives, Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham, and their Hello Stables. A star is born! Hello Sanctos! Britain went on to win its first show jumping gold in 60 years. All that and more, etched in history.

In December, the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses held their annual award ceremony for the FEI ranking winners at the Jaeger LeCoultre shop in Geneva, and Sanctos’ breeder Willy Taets, received the honor in the show jumping category. The Stud Farm de Bosbeek describes the horse thus: He “has everything on board for the big sport. He has blood, an explosive take off, a fabulous canter and is extremely careful. His technique is like an example. Besides all this he has a very sweet and manageable temperament.”

Sanctos initially lived in Brash’s barn in the Scottish town of Peebles (land of enchantment! An “ancient and royal burgh”).  The stables was recently relocated to West Sussex, England, and a town called Horsham (which name, according to Wikipedia, originates either from “Horse Ham,”meaning a place where horses were kept, or “Horsa’s Ham,” named for a Saxon warrior who was granted land in the area.  The town has historically been known for horse trading in early medieval times,  and more recently, beer brewing).

Brash competes stateside at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles FEI 5* tournament at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Oct. 1-4, where he’ll ride Hello M’Lady and Hello Annie. The U.S. citizenry will have to wait a bit longer for a look at Brash and Sanctos in action.

 

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Domino vaults Jos Verlooy (BEL) to victory in the 2014 Longines Masters of Los Angeles Grand Prix. New owner Audrey Coulter is expected to ride the 13-yo Belgian Warmblood gelding in this year’s 5* series. (Photo: Getty Images / Longines Masters of Los Angeles)

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