Carl Hester will take on a new horse as a catch ride this summer, after it was confirmed that his top horse, En Vogue, is out of the running for a place on the British team at the dressage World Championships this summer in Herning, Denmark.
The 13-year-old Jazz gelding, with whom Carl won Olympic team bronze and European team silver in 2021, sustained an injury this month, and Carl has confirmed to H&H that he will not be able to bring him back in time to campaign for the World Championships in August.
However, Carl will now temporarily take over the reins of the Kroll family’s KK Woodstock, a 16-year-old son of Wolkentanz II, who has been campaigned at top level for the past five years by Carl’s British teammate Gareth Hughes.
“Vogue needs six weeks off, and I really don’t want to rush him back into work at that level,” said Carl. “The ultimate goal for him is the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“But last week, the Krolls read online that Vogue was off, so they spoke to Gareth about offering me the ride on Woody for the summer,” he continued. “Gareth rang me up and said, ‘Hey mate, how’d you like to ride Woody?’”
Gareth kept his planned ride on Woody at Hickstead Premier League in mid-May, winning the grand prix with 75.83%. Carl went to try him the following day, and took him home to Gloucestershire.
Carl will now target Wellington CDI in mid-June with Woody, and possibly Bolesworth at the end of June, in an attempt to gain qualification and ultimately selection for the four-strong British team for Herning. Gareth, meanwhile, will campaign Classic Briolinca – grand prix winner at Compiegne CDIO5* last week – and his 2021 Olympic alternate and European championship silver medallist Sintano Van Hof Olympia for the worlds.
“I’m very lucky to have four international grand prix horses at the moment,” said Gareth, who also rides the 13-year-old Diamond Hit stallion KK Dominant for Martin and Claudine Kroll, and their daughter Jessica. “The summer season is short so I can’t compete all the horses [towards the worlds] so this is really a perfect scenario for the summer, and then after the World Championships Woody will come back to me. I’m so happy to be in a position where, thanks to my incredibly generous owners, we can give Carl a chance to aim for the team.
“Giving Carl a horse is good for Britain, and this is also a way in which I can give something back to the Krolls, who have been so supportive of me over the years, and I’m very excited for them,” he added. “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.”
As Gareth’s long-time trainer and friend, Carl was somewhat familiar with Woody from teaching Gareth on him, and has told H&H that he has enjoyed getting to know him as a rider over the past week.
“When I first sat on him I loved him. He’s a beautiful type, a lovely great big blood horse, with a lovely personality and so comfortable,” said Carl.
“The Krolls and Gareth have been so generous in allowing me to ride him. Obviously time-wise it is going to be a big ask for me to gel with him, but so far I’m enjoying riding him. In my previous life I was always riding other people’s horses and getting catch rides, and here I am doing it again!”
Gareth added that he feels very proud that Carl is enjoying riding his horse.
“I’m also proud of my owners for being so open to this, and proud that I have a horse like this that I have trained and competed that I can hand to Carl, who is not just my trainer, but also my friend. If there’s one person in the world that you’d like to ride your horse, it’s Carl Hester!”
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