Carl Hester extended his unbeaten run on Nip Tuck at Windsor today (14 May), leading the CDI3* grand prix from first draw in wet and cold conditions.
The pair scored 75.38% ahead of Fiona Bigwood (Atterupgaards Orthilia) who was second with 74.06%.
Carl was 0.46% off his personal best of 75.84% (achieved at Barcelona CDI in March) on his and Jane de la Mare’s 11-year-old gelding by Don Ruto x Animo.
“This felt like a personal best,” said Carl, who scooped €2,600 prize-money. “He’s matured so much and his canter felt phenomenal.”
The doyenne of British dressage Jennie Loriston-Clarke, who was on bit-checking duty for the class, said to Carl emphatically: “Well done boy – you did well.”
Carl added: “Nip Tuck has won every grand prix he’s done this year, so this is three out of three.”
The Gloucestershire-based rider trains or helps five of the competitors in the class and spent the entire evening coaching pupils when he wasn’t riding.
In turn, Charlotte Dujardin was on hand to offer advice and encouragement to Carl, saying, “Well done granddad, that looked gorgeous!” as he left the arena.
Carl added that the show felt like a “family outing” with so many friendly faces around him.
Nip Tuck had minor blips in two of the piaffes, but Carl blamed that squarely on “rider error”.
Fiona Bigwood was snapping at Carl’s heels and, had it not been for a mistake at the beginning of the two-time changes, would have been even closer to him.
Fiona, who won €1,040 for her second place, was emotional about her Gribaldi mare’s performance as she is inexperienced in big atmospheres. She is only a 10-year-old and is tipped to be Fiona’s next team horse.
Dutch rider Katja Gevers broke the British stranglehold, coming third with 71.32% on another Gribaldi offspring, Thriller.
The riders were tightly grouped from fourth to ninth, with only 1.4% dividing them.
Alice Oppenheimer was top of the chasing pack, building on her win earlier in the week at advanced medium.
The 25-year-old scored 69.86% on the home-bred and home produced Dimaggio gelding Headmore Delegate – their second best international grand prix result.
Alice was chased by Anders Dahl (Wie Atlantico) and Lara Griffith (Rubin Al Asad), who both topped 69%.
Only 11 of the 12 riders progress to tomorrow night’s freestyle as Bahrain’s Abdulredha Abdulhadi Alafoo made three errors of course on Tout De Suite and was eliminated. As the grand prix is a qualifying round for the freestyle, he cannot start in the latter.
For a full report see Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday, 21 May