Carl Hester‘s London 2012 ride Uthopia has been sold for £165,000 at public auction. The 15-year-old stallion by Metall was lot 80 in Wilsons Auctions’ unreserved prestige auction at the company’s HQ in Mallusk, Northern Ireland.
The bidding on the stallion was intense. He was the 80th lot and his auction lasted far longer than all those that went before him. Rattling through most lots at one or two a minute, the Uthopia’s sale took 13 minutes.
Early bids were sparse as the room did not appear to be full of horse people. The auction consisted mostly of luxury goods such as cars, cigars, watches, luggage, alcohol and even a plane.
Bidding in the room picked up, and reached £65,000 fairly quickly. As bidding appeared to cool, the price rose in agonisingly slow £1,000 increments.
As the hammer came up at £69,000 a new bidder in the room emerged. There followed a back-and-forth bidding duel between the new bidder, a man seated in the stands, and an anonymous bidder standing at the back, whose bids were conveyed by one of the auction’s tellers.
There was an online bid at £160,000, but the bidder in the back of the room was the ultimate victor, giving the nod at £165,000 and edging out the bidder sitting in the stands.
Uthopia was sold by Tom Keenan (Keenan Corporate Finance) and James Neill (HNH Group) to an as yet unknown buyer. Mr Keenan and Neill had held joint ownership of the horse by virtue of their respective roles as trustee in bankruptcy over two separate bankruptcy estates — Sasha Stewart and her father Derek Harrison.
Prior to the auction, Carl had said that he was hopeful that he had “arranged enough money through owners to keep Uthopia’s future secure”. However, the auction house said that it had received global interest in the sale of the dressage star. The bidding lasted for around 15mins before the hammer dropped.
More to follow…
On Friday 27 May at 6pm Wilsons Auctions’ unreserved prestige auction – which includes the sale of Olympic gold medal winning stallion, Uthopia (Uti) – will begin at Wilsons Auctions’ head office in Mallusk, Northern Ireland.
Horse & Hound’s dressage and sport horse editor Alice Collins will be at the auction bringing us details of the bidding as it happens via our live blog below. The auction starts at 6pm, with Uthopia listed as lot 80 in the auction catalogue.
Alongside Uti, the auction will also include a selection of supercars, prestige jewellery, watches designer goods and more, but we will all be waiting to tenterhooks to find out whether the London 2012 star will have his future secured so he can remain in the care of Carl Hester, or whether he will be sold into the hands of new owners.
Confirmation that Uthopia was to be sold at public auction with no reserve followed many months of speculation and uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the black stallion by Metall, who won team gold under Carl Hester at the London Olympics.
Uthopia is being sold by Tom Keenan (Keenan Corporate Finance) and James Neill (HNH Group) who hold joint ownership of the horse by virtue of their respective roles as trustee in bankruptcy over two separate bankruptcy estates — Sasha Stewart and her father Derek Harrison.
After initially describing himself as “appauled” that the horse’s future was to be decided in this manner, Carl Hester has said that he is hopeful that he is in a position to secure the stallion’s future with him long-term. However, the auction house has said that it has been inundated with interest in the horse from around the world, so only time will tell as to whether Uti will remain in the hands of those who have cared for him for so long.
Seyfarth Synopsis: In yet another effort to limit predatory ADA lawsuits, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law – effective immediately – legislation that will provide small business owners with some potential relief.
Another year, another attempt in California to reform disability access laws – which presently offer plaintiffs a $4,000 per violation bounty for suing businesses. But this one might actually make a difference – for small businesses at least. The bill is significant as a demonstration of yet another effort at reform that will still likely have little effect on the big picture. As the bill’s author has noted, it is a “watered down solution to this lawsuit abuse dilemma.”
On Tuesday, May 10th, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 269. The bill became effective immediately.
Most significantly, the legislation creates a third category of businesses exempt from full minimum statutory damages — businesses that have employed 50 or fewer employees on average over the past three years, with a facility that has been inspected by a CASp inspector before the filing of a lawsuit or receipt of a demand letter (and the business was not otherwise on notice of the alleged violations), and the business corrected, within 120 days of the CASp inspection, all construction-related violations noted by the CASp inspector that are the basis for the lawsuit or demand letter. This third category is added to two other categories of businesses which are eligible for reduced statutory damages by virtue of 2012 reform legislation — the last earnest effort of reform that made it into law, which we wrote about here.
There are quite a few hoops for a small business to jump through to qualify for this new exemption, which is why we doubt it will make much of a difference.
SB 269 also allows an exemption from statutory damages for small businesses (25 or fewer employees and less than $3.5 million in gross receipts annually over the past three years), and only provides protection from enumerated technical violations (things like parking lot paint fading or signage) if the small business can manage to fix them within 15 days of notice of the alleged violations — a really short time. Often it can take more than 15 days to get a contractor out to re-paint parking lot striping, and much longer than that to order and install proper, compliant signage.
A plaintiff can still recover damages if he shows that he did in fact experience difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment on the particular occasion as a result of one or more of the technical violations. This means that the plaintiff could just try to open the door and find a violation inside the facility, or find a violation that doesn’t fall into one of the “technical violations” specified in Civil Code section 55.56(e).
Last year’s reform effort, AB 1521, added Section 425.55 to the Code of Civil Procedure. That section imposes procedural and substantive conditions (disclosure of number of previous lawsuits filed, the reason the plaintiff was in the geographic location of the alleged violation, and why he/she visited the site) before a “high-frequency litigant” can file a lawsuit in California state courts. A “high frequency litigant” is a “plaintiff who has filed 10 or more complaints alleging a construction-related accessibility violation within the 12-month period immediately preceding the filing of the current complaint alleging a construction-related accessibility violation or an attorney who has represented as attorney of record 10 or more high-frequency litigant plaintiffs in actions that were resolved within the 12-month period immediately preceding the filing of the current complaint alleging a construction-related accessibility violation.”
AB 1521 also requires, in Government Code section 70616.5, a high-frequency litigant to pay at the time of filing a construction-related accessibility lawsuit in California state court, a $1,000 filing fee in addition to the court’s initial filing fee. Finally, AB 1521 established state court procedures to evaluate cases that involve a high-frequency litigant as well as procedures for requesting a joint inspection of the premises as part of participating in an early evaluation conference.
We’re often asked what practical effect these California reform bills have on the big picture of ADA lawsuit abuse. The response, unfortunately, is usually: very little because the statutory damages exceptions apply mostly to small businesses, and the procedural protections only apply to lawsuits filed in state courts, while many ADA cases are filed in federal courts. On May 4, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an Order confirming that defendants sued in federal court are not entitled to a stay of proceedings and an early evaluation conference under California’s disability accessibility laws.
Despite efforts to reign in overzealous plaintiff’s attorneys and bring back the spirit of the ADA and California accessibility laws, the wheels of justice turn slowly. These bills show the legislature’s attempts to chip away at this issue bit by bit.
A pony found entangled and abandoned with an old bike digging into her legs has been taken in by a sanctuary.
The skewbald mare was found on Sunday morning (22 May) tethered in a field estimated to be about 20 feet square.
She was taken in by North Mayo Horse Sanctuary, County Mayo, where she is recovering from her ordeal.
Sanctuary founder Gerry Ginty, who is also a county councillor for the area, said it appeared the pony had been struggling to free herself for some time.
“She’d been tied to a fence post, beside an old bike that had been abandoned,” he said.
“The rope had got tangled in it and the more the poor horse struggled, the tighter the rope got.
“Eventually all four legs were caught and the sprocket [toothed wheel] had cut her leg – her circulation must nearly have been cut off.
“The sad thing is, this was next to a church so people had walked past her to Mass and no one had done anything about it. The man who called us was a good Samaritan.”
Mr Ginty and sanctuary volunteer John Redmond managed to free the pony – which they named Sprocket – and she is now on box rest with an injured ligament in a hind leg.
“She was very nervous at first,” Mr Redmond said.
“She was trembling and wouldn’t come anywhere near us but now she’s starting to trust again, today she came over and ate out of my hand.”
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Mr Redmond said he thinks the mare, who is about seven, will be ready to be re-homed next month.
The pictures of her, posted by the sanctuary on its Facebook page, have been seen by thousands of people.
Mr Redmond said: “You have to tell a story with pictures. For so many rescues, we haven’t thought of taking photos because it’s the last thing on your mind but it’s good to be able to show people what goes on as otherwise they probably wouldn’t believe it.”
Following the cancellation of its popular international dressage show at the end of July, Hickstead’s British Dressage regional championships have now been moved.
Originally set to run from 15-17 July, the regional championships will now take place from 28-31 July.
British Dressage stated that the move would “give riders a bigger sense of occasion as it will be alongside the Longines Royal International Horse Show”.
The regionals show will incorporate small tour and big tour classes as well as the qualifiers for the national championships at Stoneleigh in September.
A number of international judges who had been booked to officiate at the CDI have agreed to remain involved in the show so riders will have the chance to compete under top officials.
These classes will be open to all, with priority given to those previously nominated for the CDIO3*/CDI2*.
- ‘This is devastating news’: international dressage cancelled at Hickstead
- British superstars confirmed for Bolesworth dressage freestyle
- ‘Golden oldies’: dressage championships for veteran horses and riders
This change, and further consolidation of fixtures at Hickstead, is designed to help them ensure that the international show makes a welcome return in 2017.
However, many riders and connections on the British Dressage forum expressed their displeasure at the change of date, having made long-standing plans around the original scheduling of the show.
BD sport operations manager Paul Graham said: “We appreciate that there will be some members who are affected by the date move. We have worked with Dane [Rawlins] as swiftly as possible to enable members to change their plans if necessary.
“We weighed up the options but to have a chance to run alongside the Royal International Horse Show was too good an opportunity to miss so members competing will have a truly special experience at their Regional Championships.”
The new schedule for Hickstead’s regional championships is below.
Thursday 28 July
Back In Action Summer Regional Championship preliminary silver
Dodson & Horrell Summer Regional Championship novice silver
Dodson & Horrell Summer Regional Championship novice gold
Fairfax Saddles Summer Regional Championship FEI prix st georges gold
Friday 29 July
Childeric Saddles Summer Regional Championship elementary silver
Childeric Saddles Summer Regional Championship elementary gold
TopSpec Summer Regional Championship medium silver
Saracen Horse Feeds Summer Regional Championship FEI intermediate I gold
Saturday 30 July
TopSpec Summer Regional Championship medium gold
Hickstead Championship Final 5yo national British young dressage horse
Hickstead Championship Final 6yo national British young dressage horse
FEI grand prix
FEI prix st georges
Sunday 31 July
Equine Construction Summer Regional Championship advanced medium gold
Equine Construction Summer Regional Championship advanced medium silver
Hickstead Championship Final FEI young horse finale
Hickstead Championship Final FEI young horse finale
Grand prix freestyle
Prix st georges freestyle
Full list of all summer regional dates:
Somerford Cheshire 16 – 18 Jul
Kingston Mauward Dorset 18 – 20 Jul
Port Royal E Yorks 21 – 24 Jul
Mount Ballan Wales 22- 24 Jul
Hickstead Surrey 28 – 31 Jul
Cabin Scotland 5 – 7 Aug
Bury Farm Bucks 8 – 11 Aug
Keysoe Beds 12 – 14 Aug
Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu has abandoned his aim of competing as the world’s oldest Olympian at Rio 2016.
The 75-year-old’s horse, Brioni W, fell ill, causing the three-time Olympian to miss out on his chance of qualifying.
“To my regret, I gave up on my dream of competing in the Rio Olympics,” he said.
“I don’t want to push the horse, so unfortunately I have given up upon the dream of competing in the Rio Olympics.
“I will prioritise helping to restore my horse’s health.”
The nature of Brioni W’s health problems have not been revealed
Hiroshi was the oldest athlete at London 2012, aged 71.
His appearance four years earlier in Beijing marked one of the longest breaks between Olympic appearances for an equestrian.
He first rode in the Games at Tokyo 1964, competing as a showjumper.
Most recently, Hiroshi had been training in The Netherlands and Germany.
If he had competed at Rio, Hiroshi would have broken the record for the oldest Olympian.
The current record-holder is Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who participated in the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72. Oscar won a silver medal.
‘I had totally given up’
Hiroshi earned Olympic qualification for London 2012 after finishing first in the FEI’s Asia-Oceania dressage rankings.
He rode 15-year-old Whisper, who had recently recovered from tendonitis.
“I had totally given up on trying to go to London,” Hiroshi said after qualifying.
“The horse’s recovery was a miracle, I was very lucky. She’s a little bit old, but still a good age.”
- Seventy-year-old Japanese dressage rider aiming for Olympics
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The pair finished 40th in the individual.
Whisper was put down in 2013 after sustaining a cracked pastern.
Hiroshi has been riding since he was 23. He is a former director of Johnson & Johnson but gave up his role 12 years ago to concentrate on riding.
The National Hunt world has been treated to some jaw-dropping highs during the 2015/2016 season — Sprinter Sacre‘s comeback at Cheltenham would bring a tear to the hardiest of racing fans, and 19-year-old jockey David Mullins heading for victory in the Grand National put the spotlight on a star of the future.
The British Horseracing Authority and the Irish Turf Club have now revealed the ratings for jumps horses for this season, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning Don Cossack coming out on top for the second year running.
Take a look at which National Hunt stars topped their category this season
Jay Halim’s top horse Bart VI has been sidelined for the rest of the summer following colic surgery.
The Wiltshire-based showjumper partnered the 10-year-old gelding to victory in the grand prix at the Blue Chip Championships in April. However, while competing at Wales and West at the end of April, Jay noticed his stable star was not quite himself.
“I had ridden him at Bury Farm the week before and had been placed in the grand prix, but at Wales and West he seemed hotter to ride than normal and didn’t jump brilliantly,” said Jay.
Once back at the stables, Bart — who is owned by Helen Rees — showed signs of discomfort and Jay drove him straight to the vets.
“They initially thought he was okay, but then did a variety of tests that revealed he had an impaction in his small intestine and they operated on him that night,” Jay told H&H.
The son of Lord Z remained at the equine hospital for 10 days before being allowed home.
“The vet was happy with how the operation went and it is great to have him back home now,” added Jay, who has been competing Bart up to 1.55m classes and grands prix.
The gelding is on box rest for three months before he can get back into work and is being hand-grazed and walked out four-times a day.
“They’ve said it shouldn’t affect him in the future so I have no concerns about his comeback, as he loves his job.
“He’s never had colic like this before — what caused it remains an unsolved mystery. I’m so fussy and particular when it comes to the management of my horses staying away at shows. I always take my own haylage and keep them on the same feed,” he said. “It has been a huge blow to me — Bart is my main man so it was a stab to the heart.
“I guess with him being off it gives me time to concentrate on my young horses, but I feel like I’ve been doing that for a while now — I was ready to go to the bigger shows this year. But I am trying to find a positive in this bad situation and maybe three months off and a good break will be the best thing for Bart.”
Attention Public Accommodations: DOJ’s Recent Rulemaking Action for State and Local Government Websites Reveals its Current Thinking on Web Accessibility
Seyfarth Synopsis: If you would rather not read the 30-page small print Federal Register notice, this summary will provide you with what you need to know about the Justice Department’s most recent official pronouncement on web accessibility.
As we reported, last week DOJ issued a lengthy Supplemental ANPRM (SANPRM) for state and local government websites, which some commentators have decried as a “do-over.” This unusual move was a surprise, to be sure, but we do not view it as a complete setback. The SANPRM appears to be DOJ’s attempt to preview its position on key issues and obtain public comment. As such, the SANPRM has very serious implications that go far beyond the realm of state and local governments. The rules that DOJ ultimately issues in the state and local government website rulemaking will likely provide the framework for the proposed rule for public accommodations websites — currently slated for 2018. Accordingly, public accommodations and the organizations that represent them need to submit comments in response to the SANPRM before the comment period closes on August 8, 2016.
We normally don’t write long blog posts but the lengthy SANPRM — containing no fewer than 123 questions for public comment — warrants an exception. Below is a high level summary of the key issues, with some of our preliminary commentary:
- Scope of Regulation. DOJ is considering broadening the scope of the future rule from websites to “Web content.” This expansion could potentially cover web content that a covered entity places on websites that it does not own or control (g. advertising), and could have far reaching implications.
- Accessibility Standard. DOJ believes that WCAG 2.0 AA should be the standard for Web content, as we’ve predicted.
- Compliance Period. DOJ is considering giving public entities “two years after the publication of a final rule to make their Web sites and Web content accessible in conformance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, unless compliance with the requirements would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens.” This begs the question of why DOJ’s enforcement attorneys have been demanding that businesses and state local governments make their websites comply with WCAG 2.0 AA right now. The two-year proposal is a shift away from DOJ’s initial, 2010, ANPRM position where it contemplated different compliance dates for existing web pages versus new webpages or websites. The SANPRM also notes DOJ is considering a longer three-year compliance period for captioning of live audio content.
- Consultants. DOJ wants to know if there is a shortage of consultants who can bring Web content into conformance with the proposed WCAG 2.0 AA standard. Rather than rely on anecdotal comments, we suggest that DOJ canvas the field of such consultants and interview them to see if they are actually qualified. DOJ will likely learn that there are very few truly experienced digital accessibility consulting firms – certainly not enough to assist the thousands of state and local governments, let alone the millions of public accommodations that will most certainly need guidance.
- Less Demanding Standard for Small Entities. DOJ is considering whether “small public entities” or “special district governments” should have a different compliance timetable or be subject to a less demanding standard such as WCAG 2.0 A, as opposed to AA. This approach could set the precedent for small businesses in a future proposed rule applicable to public accommodations.
- Possible Exemptions. DOJ is considering exempting the following Web content from compliance with the proposed WCAG 2.0 AA standard:
- Archived Web Content. To be considered “archived Web content,” the content would have to be (1) maintained exclusively for reference, research, or recordkeeping; (2) not altered or updated after the date of archiving; and (3) organized and stored in a dedicated area or areas clearly identified as being archived. Covered entities would still have to provide accessible versions of this content if someone asks for it.
- Conventional Electronic Files (g. PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PPT presentations) that existed on a Web site before the compliance date of any proposed rule.
- Third-party Web Content Linked from the Public Entity’s Website. Note, however, there would be no exception for linked Web content if the public entity “uses the third-party Web site or Web content to allow members of the public to participate in or benefit from the public entity’s services, programs, or activities.” For example, if the state parking enforcement authority contracts with a third party to process parking ticket payments on a third party site, that site would also need to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA.
- Third Party Content. A public entity would not have to make content that is posted on its website by third parties conform with the proposed standard, unless the information is essential for engaging in civic participation or if the Web site owner has chosen to include the third party content on the Web site. This proposal strikes us as highly ambiguous. Would YouTube have to provide captioning for every video posted by third parties because it has chosen to invite such third parties to post the videos? Would allowing people to post be considered an affirmative choice by the website owner triggering the compliance obligation? What if a website owner needs to include key third party content on its site but the vendor but the vendor won’t agree to make it accessible? Would the website owner be barred from including this third party content on its website, even if no vendor will provides it?
- Social Media Platforms. DOJ considers social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn to be covered by Title III of the ADA and proposes to not address the use of these platforms by state and local governments (subject to Title II) in this rule. However, DOJ says that any information provided by public entities on those social media platforms must also be available in some alternative way if the platforms are not accessible.
- Web content of Educational Institutions. DOJ is considering requiring educational institutions to make all content available to the public (as opposed to exclusively for students) on their Web sites conform to WCAG 2.0 AA. Universities should be gearing up to fight this proposition vigorously because their websites tend to be vast repositories of information (some of which may never be accessed or viewed), including thousands of videos, that would have to be made to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA. DOJ said that content relevant to a particular student or parent must be made accessible on demand “in a timely manner.”
- Conforming Alternate Versions of Web Pages and Web Content. DOJ may permit the use of conforming alternate versions of a Web page and/or Web content (1) when it is not possible to make Web content directly accessible due to technical or legal limitations; or (2) when used to provide access to conventional electronic documents.
- Undue Burden and Fundamental Alteration Defenses. DOJ is considering the use of these defenses as grounds to not make Web content conform to WCAG 2.0 AA, but (1) the burden of proving defense would remain on the public entity; (2) the decision that compliance would result in such alteration or burdens must be made by the head of a public entity or his or her designee after considering all resources available for use in the funding and operation of the service, program, or activity; and (3) the decision must be documented with a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. Moreover, the public entity still has to take any other action that would not result in such an alteration or such burdens. Moreover, the public entity still has to provide access in some alternative fashion unless doing so would also result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or undue financial and administrative burdens.
- Does Compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA Satisfy a Public Entity’s ADA Obligations? Not entirely. DOJ says that a public entity would not be required to go beyond this standard even if a person with a disability is unable to access the Web content. However, the public entity would still have to utilize an alternative method of providing the individual with a disability equal access to the information, service, program, or activity on its Web site unless the public entity can demonstrate that alternative methods of access would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the service, program, or activity or undue financial and administrative burdens.
- Measuring Compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA: DOJ is seeking public comment on how compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA should be assessed or measured, particularly for minor or temporary noncompliance. Should the measurement be based on the percentage of Web content that is accessible, or some minimum threshold of compliance? The DOJ also wants to know if there are circumstances where Web accessibility errors may not be significant barriers to accessing the information or functions of a Web site. We strongly believe that the regulations must contain a clear statement that temporary noncompliance is not a violation of the ADA. Websites change all the time and there are bound to be bugs and issues that come up. And, guidance on how compliance with the standard will be measured given the dynamic nature of websites is essential.
- Coverage of Mobile Apps. DOJ asks whether its rule should cover mobile apps and which standard should be used. DOJ specifically called out WCAG 2.0, the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or ANSI/Human Factors Engineering of Software Interfaces 200 as possible accessibility requirements for mobile apps.
As you can see, there are a many issues requiring public comment in the SANPRM. State and local governments, persons with disabilities, digital accessibility experts, vendors of third-party content and public accommodations all need to engage in this process and provide their input. If you have questions about the SANPRM or how to get involved in making comments, feel free to contact us or your favorite Seyfarth attorney.
Hickstead has cancelled its international dressage competition in July.
The West Sussex venue was set to hold the British leg of the FEI Nations’ Cup alongside CDIO3* and CDI2* classes on 28-31 July.
However dressage at Hickstead director and founder Dane Rawlins today (20 May) revealed they have made the “disappointing decision” to cancel due to lack of funding.
“This is devastating news to the team at Hickstead as this is our showcase event,” said Mr Rawlins.
“I’ve explored every avenue possible to try and find financial support to allow us to run, but time is now against us and we have reluctantly had to make the decision to cancel for 2016.”
Mr Rawlins was keen to stress that this is just one year off and the intention is that the international will return in 2017.
“Thanks to all our supporters for being there and we’re sorry not to put on our CDI this year, but Hickstead always has a way of bouncing back, better than ever,” he added.
Hickstead is working with British Dressage (BD) to ensure it still runs a show on that weekend and all of the venue’s other fixtures will be going ahead as normal.
BD’s chief executive Jason Brautigam said the organisation was made aware of the “commercial support” situation at the end of April and has been working with Hickstead to try and find ways of addressing the funding shortfall.
“This is obviously disappointing for all concerned, including the riders, owners and supporters of Dressage at Hickstead,” said Mr Brautigam.
“We will be continuing our discussions to hopefully ensure that the international can return to the venue in 2017 and beyond.
“BD remains committed to developing the sport, along with our organisers, to continue hosting high profile dressage events in the UK.”
- Golden oldies: dressage championships for veteran horses and riders
- David Stickland: ‘is judging fit for purpose?’
- British superstars confirmed for Bolesworth dressage final
The news comes as a second disappointment to dressage fans after the cancellation of the first day of Royal Windsor Horse Show meant the invitational national grand prix did not go ahead.