The golden partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro came to an end on Wednesday night, with the three-time Olympic dressage champion describing her faithful companion as the ‘perfect horse’.
The duo reprised their gold-medal winning routine from London 2012 for a special showing at Olympia horse show – the same event where the duo set two world records together.
It represented a final swansong for 14-year-old Valegro who will no longer compete but will continue to give celebrity appearances and demonstrations.
Dujardin and Valegro formed a remarkable sporting partnership, winning back-to-back individual titles at London 2012 and Rio 2016 as well as team gold and silver respectively at the two Games.
Two world and five European titles have also been forthcoming with Dujardin understandably speaking fondly ofher mount.
"I want to retire him at the top of his game because he owes me absolutely nothing," said Dujardin, who is weighing up several possible successors for Tokyo 2020.
"Now we can take the pressure off and go around and really enjoy ourselves. He deserves that.
"He's just the best. I know that sounds really silly but he is. He is just the perfect horse in every way.
“He has the biggest heart in the whole world, he always gives me the very best and that’s what I love about him.”
Dujardin and Valegro became the first British partnership to retain individual dressage gold at this year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games after dancing their way to a score of 93.847%.
That came four years after double gold – in the team and individual events – on home soil in London.
“I can’t say I’ve ever had a ride where I’ve been disappointed with him,” continued Dujardin. “I think London 2012, in front of my home crowd with everyone supporting me there, that was the most fantastic feeling to win there.
“I was not expecting at all to win an individual medal, let alone come away with a gold.
“So for me to do that and stand on the podium was just the best feeling, but then going to Rio with everyone around the world supporting us was also special.
“I’d love to thank everyone who has supported us through our journey because it just makes it even more special.”
Valegro is owned by a combination of Roly Luard, Anne Barrott and Carl Hester, with the latter helping to contribute to team gold and silver at London and Rio alongside Dujardin.
The 49-year-old enjoyed success himself on Wednesday evening, adding freestyle victory to Tuesday’s dressage success aboard Nip Tuck with a score of 84.669%.
This came shortly before Dujardin and Valegro entered the arena for their final appearance and Hester had nothing but admiration for what the two had achieved together.
“Valegro’s been a champion every year, what he’s able to do is take what he learns at home into the ring, which I know all riders will understand is a very difficult thing to do.
“It’s been one of the best journeys of my life to watch Charlotte and Valegro, I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I know Charlotte and I get the accolades but without this amazing horse, we wouldn’t be where we are.”