London 2012 Olympics: Lord Harris believes Hello Sanctos and Scott Brash can win first show jumping gold since 1952

London 2012 Olympics: Lord Harris believes Hello Sanctos and Scott Brash can win first show jumping gold since 1952

For a quarter of a century, Lord Harris of Peckham, in between reigning as Britain’s king of the rug trade and giving away millions of his millions in philanthropic deeds, has been a magnate on a mission, in thrall to an Olympic obsession.

When not battling to keep his 675-store Carpetright empire sailing along smoothly in choppy economic climes or busily bankrolling the transformation of his inner city London schools, the workaholic baron’s long-harboured dream has been to unearth a champion horse and fund a rider to pilot it to Britain’s first Olympic show jumping gold medal for 60 years.

In Hello Sanctos and Scott Brash, he wonders if the magic carpet ride is on. With Team GB’s selection process now reaching decisive stages in shows around Europe, the pair have won two major classes, including a $60,000 (£39,000) jackpot at a World Cup qualifying event in Florida, and jumping a brilliant double-clear round for Britain in the Nations Cup show in Rome eight days ago.

When Harris, 69 and sitting on a personal £200 million fortune, chanced upon this potential horse of a lifetime late last year, put up for sale in Germany by a frustrated Ukrainian billionaire who had supposedly fallen out with its rider, he knew he had to pull off a clandestine swoop for Britain.

He contacted his friend and co-owner, fellow home furnishings tycoon Lord Kirkham, who made his billion from DFS, and they agreed to take the plunge. They sent Brash, the Scot that Harris believes is the best young rider he has seen since David Broome’s heyday, to test the horse, Sanctos van het Gravenhof, at its German stables.

After a 45-minute try out, Brash reported back that it was as exciting as its reputation as a regular grand prix winner suggested.

Categories: News, Olympic Games