KK Woodstock is the horse everyone is talking about right now, after H&H revealed that Carl Hester will take over the ride on the 16-year-old international grand prix horse this summer.
The 17.2hh gelding is owned by the Swiss Kroll family – Martin and Claudine, and their daughter Jessica – who have been hugely supportive owners for top British rider Gareth Hughes for a number of years now. KK Woodstock is a German-bred Baden-Württemberger gelding, by the Weltmeyer stallion Wolkentanz II, out of the Landioso daughter Lerida, and was bred by Matthias Schönenberger.
He was initially competed at grand prix in Switzerland by Hans Staub, until the Krolls and Hans decided to end their partnership.
Gareth explained that he met the Krolls, “because I was training their rider in Switzerland at the time. They parted ways a few years ago, but they asked me to take on Woodstock to keep him going, and he never left.”
Gareth and “Woody” made their grand prix debut together at Hartpury Premier League in July 2018, before finishing third at the level at their first international, the Hickstead CDI that same year. Their first international win came in Le Mans, France, that autumn.
Woody proved to be a very solid grand prix ride for Gareth during the next few years, finishing eighth in the World Cup qualifier at Olympia in 2019 and achieving top four placings at Le Mans CDI3* and Lier CDI4*, and a win at Keysoe CDI3*, in early 2020 as Gareth geared him up towards the Tokyo Olympics behind his top horse Classic Briolinca, ahead of the Games’ postponement to 2021.
Their next outing was to Keysoe CDI3* in October 2020, finishing third in the freestyle, but the gelding sustained a leg injury early in 2021, which ruled him out of competition during the Olympic year.
“We took his rehab very slowly – the Kroll family were so supportive,” said Gareth, who returned to the ring with the elegant gelding this May at the Hickstead Premier League, where they won the grand prix with over 75%.
“That was the first time he’d been down the centre line in a grand prix for that long, and he felt probably the best he ever has,” Gareth told H&H after his win. “We had a couple of little mistakes but he felt fantastic.
“Every line, he was, ‘Dad, I know this, I can do this.’ He probably would have slotted into all the movements on his own. I just kept turning him in the right direction and let him do his job. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
With Carl’s top horse En Vogue ruled out of this August’s dressage World Championships due to injury, and Gareth finding himself with four international grand prix horses for the season, including his top mare Classic Briolinca, it was arranged that Carl would take over the ride on Woody for the summer, with an eye on qualification and selection for the championships.
“My hope is that one of us gets on the team this summer; my dream is for both of us to be on the team,” Gareth said.
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