Olympia Horse Show was a heady mix of emotion last night as dressage enthusiasts from around the country converged on Kensington for Britain’s only leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup and Carl Hester’s final competitive ride on Uthopia.
I felt truly privileged to be among those watching Carl and Uti’s final test, while keeping dressage fans around the world up to date with the action through our H&H Live service. It was a picture of lightness and harmony to score 79.9% and finish third behind Charlotte Dujardin and Isabell Werth.
They left the arena to a standing ovation and even Carl admitted afterwards to feeling a little emotional as he left the Grand Hall. But ever the professional, he was straight off his horse and into trainer mode, helping Charlotte warm-up ahead of her freestyle.
The crowd held its collective breath when something spooked Valegro just as he was about to enter the arena, which affected the first few movements of Charlotte’s test. But as the pair settled into their floorplan, this ‘wonder horse’ yet again looked in a class of his own. There was no world record this time, but a score of 87.975% put them nearly 8% ahead of the multi-medalled German rider on her rising star Don Johnson FRH. No mean feat!
On the topic of rising stars, it was great to see Half Moon Delphi in the flesh for the first time. Michael Eilberg produced a master class of tactical riding in their freestyle on this hot mare to finish fifth on 76.225%. Delphi’s raw talent is clear for everyone to see and they are definitely looking like potential British team members for Rio if all goes to plan.
So while it would appear that the Carl/Uthopia partnership has come to an end, wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone, or a group of people, would be able to retain the ride on Valegro for Charlotte? I’m sure you would all agree with me that this is a unique partnership that we would like to stay together for Rio and beyond.