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Carl Hester’s superb grand prix debut on field-kept championship prospect

Carl Hester made a stunning show ring debut with his future team prospect, En Vogue.

The pair scored just under 78% in the grand prix special on 19 September, during one of a series of events held at Hartpury, and judged by four five-star international judges.

“I wanted to have a bash at the special, as that is a very important test being the one that will decide the team medals at the Tokyo Olympics, and I was really excited about what Vogue produced,” said Carl, who took over the ride on En Vogue, Charlotte Dujardin’s 11-year-old Jazz x Contango gelding, in February this year, but had yet to ride him in the ring owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wanted to give Vogue some confidence, and gain some understanding of him in the ring, and he was really relaxed and gave me a lovely ride – except for an unfortunate blip when he stopped for a poo in the middle of my two-tempi changes,” Carl told H&H.

“I have no one else to blame for that than myself – I tell everyone else at home to stop because I’m the one who has to pick it up!”

The rest of Vogue’s test was mistake-free and he picked up some 10s from the judges, including for his pirouettes and half-pass.

“He’s not quite ready for me to put in the power just yet – I don’t want to do that until next year when we’ve had a season together. But it’s just lovely that he is a horse who lives out in the field, comes in in the morning and then goes and does a grand prix special in the afternoon,” added Carl.

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“There’s a lovely holistic side to him; he is more than happy to oblige, and it keeps his brain really good,” said Carl.

It was also a hugely successful weekend for Charlotte herself, who scored a huge new grand prix personal best on Mount St Mount Freestyle, with 85%.

“Charlotte did a beautiful test, probably the best grand prix she’s ever done,” commented Carl. “These training grands prix tests have been the making of Charlotte and Freestyle’s partnership, as they have been able to try out some different things. The horse had looked like a gold medallist out there – there were no mistakes, the piaffes were really good, she looked confident, and it was such a joy to watch.”

Among the other top British riders getting in a valuable grand prix run on the same weekend were Gareth Hughes with Classic Briolinca, Lara Butler on Kristjan, Louise Bell on Into The Blue, Sonnar Murray-Brown with Erlentanz and Hayley Watson-Greaves on Rubins Nite.

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