Carl Hester raised the roof with his brand new freestyle, posting 83.75% to win the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle aboard his own and Jane de la Mare’s Nip Tuck.
Their new routine was daring, carrying a very high degree of difficulty, but the 11-year-old Don Ruto gelding pulled it off with flair. The first centre line especially made the judges sit up in their seats, with a full piaffe pirouette, passage and a double canter pirouette all featuring before the pair reached C.
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” said an emotional Carl. “It was hard enough for ‘Barney’ to go round the edge of this arena last year, let alone do the test, so it’s incredible what a year can do.
“The horse isn’t blessed with the best physical attributes, but has a very good brain, so I decided to put together what I thought were the most difficult things we could do.”
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The freestyle results reversed that of Tuesday night’s grand prix, with Charlotte Duajrdin having to settle for second with Carl Hester and Sasha Stewart’s Uthopia. Charlotte scored 82.55% for Valegro’s How To Train A Dragon programme, coaxing a fluid and expressive performance out of the 14-year-old Metall stallion.
“Uti felt a bit tired tonight, but he tried very hard,” said Charlotte. “He felt fantastic last night – I think I surprised myself actually.
“If there is one person to be beaten by it’s Grandad. He did a cracking job – watching him out there tonight gave me goosepimples.”
Dutch rider Hans Peter Minderhoud scored 80.97% with Glock’s Flirt to finish third for the second night on the trot. The pair bettered their winning freestyle score from Stockholm last month by 0.02% to secure a personal best.
Britain’s Lara Griffith jumped up four places from the previous night to fill fourth position, with the Bechtolsheimers’ 13-year-old Rubin Royal gelding Rubin Al Asad. Lara was delighted to score 78.02% – by far the combination’s highest score to date.