Have you ever wondered what music the top riders love to listen to – and what songs form the soundtrack to their schooling sessions? Dressage legend Carl Hester has revealed the eight tunes that mean the most to him on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. Although Carl admits that as a social person he would struggle to be cast away on a desert island with nobody there to talk to, this collection of music would help make it bearable….
Carl Hester’s Desert Island Disks selection
1, The song that helps Carl Hester ride better
Castles (Freya Ridings)
Carl named this track as the one that instantly gives him a lift if it comes on the radio while he’s riding at home.
“Every time it comes on, my poor horse has to suffer it going up to top notch on the volume, but they always seem to go better to this particular track.”
2, The one that reminds Carl – and the rest of us – of London 2012
Fleurs Du Mal (Sarah Brightman)
For anyone who was lucky enough to witness Carl’s epic freestyle test on Uthopia at the London Olympics in 2012, this tune will invoke memories and probably goosebumps – it certainly does for Carl. This emotive piece featured in his canter section, proving the perfect accompaniment to Uthopia’s lovely tempi changes.
3, The first song he ever remembers
Brand New Key (Melanie)
“My mother had just married my stepfather, Jess Hester, on Sark and this record was obviously their favourite,” explains Carl, who was brought up on the tiny Channel island. “I just remember sitting on the floor at a very young age and Melanie got played again and again. I especially loved the bit about roller skates – I always wanted to roller skate.”
4, The first record he ever bought
Some Girls (Racey)
“When I was at boarding school we had what we called ‘dens’, right down in the bottom corridors. They were rooms where each year group went to play music, play games and chill out. We had a bean bag and a tuck box and, in some cases, a record player, and Some Girls by Racey was the first record I ever bought,” reveals Carl.
5, The soundtrack to Carl’s moody, teenage years
Slave to Love (Bryan Ferry)
“This is a beautiful song and it has some really incredible lyrics in it,” says Carl. “I remember in my moody teens listening to Bryan Ferry all the time. Some of it was crazy dance stuff, but this puts me in a really soft, sleepy mood.”
6, A throwback tune to Carl’s first Olympic Games
Barcelona (Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé)
Carl’s first ever Olympics was the Barcelona Games in 1992, where he rode Georgione alongside Emile Faurie, Laura Fry and Carol Parsons, and it’s hardly surprising that one of his desert island choices is a song that reminds him of that milestone.
“It reminds me of my first opening ceremony,” he says. “I had never experienced such an enormous situation and to be in the main arena and to see this song performed on a hot, summer night in Barcelona… the song brings back incredible memories for me.”
7, The song he loves to sing along to after a glass of wine
Windmills of your Mind (Noel Harrison)
“I have been fortunate to meet lots of interesting, different people in the horse world, and a friend of mine from the past is Harriet Harrison, whose father is Noel Harrison,” Carl explains. “She has two grown-up boys now, who are my godsons and we love spending time together. Whenever we’ve had a bit too much to drink, this is the song we sing – very badly.”
8, The track that never gets old
Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes)
Carl names this as the final record he would take onto a desert island with him.
“I am pretty obsessive when I find a song I love and I tend to play it endlessly, until finally I can’t bear it any longer. But this song just never gets boring and I’m never tired of it,” he explains, adding this if he had to choose just one track from his Desert Island Discs choice, this would be it.
“However hungry I was, however much I wished there was a bar on the desert island, I could play this and I’d feel very happy.”
- Listen to Carl Hester’s Desert Island Disks episode
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