Carl Hester gave Britain’s Olympic dressage hopes a great start by scoring 77.72% to lead halfway through the first day of the grand prix team competition.
Riding Uthopia, he performed a soft, forward test only marred by a mistake in the extended canter.
“This is only his second international competition this year, and it felt like a very good performance,” said Carl. “It’s not the highest mark we’ve had, but you have to take into consideration that this is the Olympics, and changing in the extended canter was very costly.”
Commentating on his position as Britain’s first rider, he said: “We had to make the decision that I would go first to get the gap between me and Charlotte [Dujardin] so that we get the warm-up right.”
This doesn’t really apply during the grand prix, when they are on separate days, but will be relevant during the grand prix special, which this time forms the second part of the team challenge.
In second on 76.277% is the first of the German team riders, Dorothee Schneider, on Diva Royal, while Denmark’s Anna Kasprzak did a brilliant job in driving rain to take third at this stage with a mark of 75.243 on Donnperignon.
Dressage legend Anky van Grunsven wasn’t on top form on the 18-year-old Salinero, scoring 73.48. She was in tears afterwards and admitted that her concentration was badly upset by the fact that her husband, Sjef Janssen, was taken ill this morning.
Anne van Olst, first to go this morning, is next on a solid 71.29 on Clearwater for Denmark, ahead of the German individual rider, Anabel Balkenhol, whose Dablino got rather het up and broke twice in trot early on for 70.973.
Poor Canadian rider David Marcus had to retire after Capital totally lost the plot, bucking, rearing and refusing to go forward.
Britain’s second team rider, Laura Bechtolsheimer, performs at 3.11pm today on Mistral Hojris.
Full 13-page report on the team dressage in H&H out next FRIDAY, 10 August.