Carl Hester has been at the top of the dressage world for over three decades, and was a lynchpin of the British team yet again in 2021, adding Olympic team bronze and European Championship team silver to his medal collection. He has had plenty of fantastic equine partners over the years, and has now ridden 10 different horses on senior championship teams for Britain. We take a look back at some of the most memorable of Carl Hester’s top horses…
Rubelit Von Unkenriff
It was Rubelit Von Unkenriff with whom Carl first represented Britain at senior level, aged 23, at the first World Equestrian Games in 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden, while based with the Bechtolsheimers. Carl rode alongside Jennie Loriston-Clarke, Anni MacDonald-Hall and Diana Mason, and the team was fifth, with Carl finishing 18th individually. Rubelit and Carl also competed at the European Championships in Donaueschingen the following year.
Another ride during his invaluable stint with the Bechtolsheimers, Giorgione took Carl to his first Olympics – the Barcelona Games in 1992. At 25, Carl was the youngest British rider ever to compete at an Olympic Games, and the team of Carl, Emile Faurie, Laura Fry and Carol Parsons finished seventh, with Carl and Grundstein I stallion best Brits in 16th. Giorgione also delivered Carl’s first national championship title and repeated the feat in 1992.
This tall Dutch-bred gelding was Carl’s ride at the 1997 and 1997 European Championships, finishing 13th at the latter. He also landed the national championship title three times in a row with Carl. Not bad for a horse of unknown breeding who was bought for £2,500 off a boat from the Netherlands by his owner Marcia Kelsey.
Argentine Gullit was Carl’s Sydney Olympics partner in 2000. The Dutch-bred stallion by Ulft was owned by Jenny Green, and went on to take Jenny’s daughter Gemma to international small tour level. He was retired aged 19 in 2007 after a recurring tendon injury, and died in 2019 aged 22.
The bay gelding, by Exlibris out of a mare by Ikarus, played a pivotal role in Carl’s international career, finishing 13th at the Athens Olympics in 2004. The pair’s highlight was finishing third in the grand prix special at the 2005 European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany, with a score of 74.32%. Shortly after the Europeans in 2005, Peanuts was sold to the Netherlands to be ridden internationally by Hans Peter Minderhoud, before the gelding was retired at the age of 18 and returned to Carl.
The Lorentin I gelding, known as Lenny, competed at international grand prix with five different riders, having been trained to the top level by Britain’s Anna Ross before becoming one of Carl’s top horses. Carl took over the ride from Anna in 2008, winning European silver the following year – his first championship medal. He also won team silver on him at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
One of the heroes of Britain’s euphoric gold medal winning team at the London 2012 Olympics, Uti’s own career highlight arguably came the previous year, when he and Carl scored 82.57% to win the grand prix at the Rotterdam European Championships – including straight 10s for his breathtaking extended trot – helping Britain to the team gold too. The Metall stallion went on to compete very successfully under Charlotte Dujardin, before focusing on his breeding career.
From spooky, uncoordinated youngster to one of the best in the world, Nip Tuck’s story will go down in history. Having come into his own when he reached grand prix level, the tall Don Ruto son “Barney” was a stalwart of the British team from 2014 to 2017, winning team silver medals at WEG in 2014, the Aachen Europeans in 2015 and the Rio Olympics in 2016. He also finished third at the World Cup final in 2017 and fourth individually at the Gothenburg Europeans that same year, cementing his position as one of Britain’s most successful grand prix horses.
In just his first year at grand prix aged 10, Delicato was an integral part of Britain’s team bronze at WEG in 2018 – the nation’s first team medal since Valegro’s retirement. The exquisite Diamond Hit son has grown in confidence under Carl’s skillful riding, producing top 10 individual finishes at the Rotterdam Europeans in 2019, and has continued to succeed under his new rider Fiona Bigwood.
Carl’s current top horse and 2021 double championship medallist, this tall, high-energy Jazz son was trained and competed up to grand prix level by owner Charlotte Dujardin, with Carl taking over the ride in 2020. The pair played a huge role in Britain’s tremendous success at both the Tokyo Olympics and the European Championships, with Carl masterfully bringing out this immensely talented horse’s confidence more and more with each outing. There will be plenty more to come from Carl and Vogue.
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