Brazil Buyer of Italian Olympic Horse Eremo del Castegno Accuses Former Owner Vincenzo Truppa of Covering Up Lameness in Sale

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Valentina Truppa and Eremo del Castagena at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. © Ilse Schwarz/

June 19, 2017

The Brazilian buyer of the Olympic horse Eremo del Castegno has accused former owner and International Equestrian Federation (FEI) 5* judge Vincenzo Truppa as representing the gelding as “never lame” at the same time he told the Italian federation the horse was being sold because it was unfit.

Dr. Jorge Ferreira da Rocha made the charges in an open letter addressed to Vincenzo Truppa after he learned of what he described as “shocking facts” surrounding his purchase of Eremo del Castegno at the end of 2015 in hopes of competing at the age of 70 at the 2016 Rio Olympics in his homeland.

Dr. da Rocha released documents and emails that he said supported his position over the sale of the horse that Valentina Truppa, Vincenzo Truppa’s daughter, competed for Italy at the 2012 London Olympics, 2014 World Games, 2011  and 2013 European Championships and the 2012 and 2013 World Cup Finals. Their last CDI competition was at Salzburg, Austria in December 2015, the same month of the sale to Dr. da Rocha.

Dr. da Rocha, who has been riding for 30 years, sponsored international shows and dressage sport in Brazil and abroad and competed Quixote Lancia in dressage at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, said he will not sue Vincenzo Truppa but provided documentation in support of his charges to some media outlets.

Dr. Da Rocha said the mention of his name in the lawsuit in Italy in which the Italian equestrian federation (FISE) stated it provided substantial financial support for Eremo del Castegno from 2012 through 2015 as a prospect for the 2016 Games. The horse was 15 years old in 2016.

“In the month of December 2015, Truppa addressed a letter to FISE, disclosing his intentions to sell Eremo del Castegno and revealing the motivation for such a decision: Eremo was no longer fit for competitive purposes,” he wrote.

“At the same time, however, Truppa was addressing an email to me, stating that ‘the horse was never lame and that his word as a five star FEI judge was worth taking,’ while vehemently and strongly objecting to my requests for more detailed investigations (namely MRI) on soundness issues of the horse. I felt obliged to believe in the word of a man working inside FEI’s heart.

“While waiting for the results of the doping tests–and still giving full credit to Truppa’s statements and pleas–the deal was concluded, based on acceptable findings in the clinical examination of Eremo.

“In January 2016, I learned that the blood drawn for doping screening at the moment of the clinical examination had been discarded upon Truppa’s requests. Moreover, according to Mr. Truppa, there was an agreement in this direction with the buyer.

”This is not possible. I do not speak English. I never spoke to Mr. Truppa, nor have I ever sent him an email. The blood samples for drug screening were never sent to the laboratory due only to Truppa’s intervention, and without our consent or knowledge.”

Dr. da Rocha said the lawsuit now made it clear why Eremo del Castegno was unsound after the purchase.

“Truppa did not lie to FISE,” he said in the letter. “There were health limitations to performance, as he states in his letter to the federation. At first manageable, later on these limitations implied in discomfort, and my decision was clear and straightforward: Eremo was not going to compete at such high costs.

“You were right again Mr. Truppa, stating before court–while being prosecuted for contract violation and financial and moral impairment impinged to your national federation–that participating in the Olympics was the dream of this 70-year-old man.”

He was making the issue public, he said, “motivated by the genuine belief that animal welfare is of paramount importance in our sport and that it will only be accomplished and preserved through the immaculate demeanor of all parties involved. Above all, decency and honesty must prevail. Anything or anyone not driven by these principles should never be part of the horse family.

“Vincenzo Truppa, the former owner of Eremo del Castegno, the horse I bought in December 2015, is the protagonist of a series of misleading acts that profoundly and negatively impacted the above-mentioned community, all the staff at Vila Quixote and myself, particularly. As an FEI member, I feel all other FEI members have been likewise affected.

“But that is a very small part of the dreams I hold dear. I dream to see everyone in the sport treat horses and people involved with all the due respect. I dream everyone in the sport share the same joy I experience when I walk in my stable every morning to greet my horses. God made us friends, me and Eremo, and lucky enough to have this experience together. He is always welcoming me, craving for his morning apples. And I make sure that he has a whole team working for his rehabilitation, a very, very comfortable stall to relax, meanwhile, and all the attention, respect and appreciation he deserves.”

“From my part,” he directly addressed Vincenzo Truppa, “I expect nothing from you. The suffering and damage caused by your acts are irreparable.

“To finish, after having learned about the circumstances of the dealing of Eremo del Castegno it is not understandable that–with our so divergent principles and expectations–we stand as members of the same International Equestrian Federation. It is beyond my comprehension that the FEI, aware of these facts, still has your name in the list of Official International Judges. Or that you have horses under your training supervision.

“As I said in the beginning of this letter, above all, decency and honesty must prevail. Anything or anyone not driven by these principles should never be part of the horse sport industry. This is the reason I decided to come public, in hope horses’ interests remain a priority, warranting long life all equestrian disciplines.”