Carl Hester makes winning return to competition after nearly a year, with ‘divine’ new ride

  • Carl Hester returned to the competition arena for the first time in almost a year this weekend (29 January), winning a grand prix class at Hartpury on 76%.

    He was riding Fame, the 13-year-old Bordeaux stallion previously competed at international grand prix by Fiona Bigwood. Fame has now been based with Carl Hester for around eight weeks.

    “I’ve known Fame for the last few years as I have been helping Fiona,” said Carl. “She is very busy with the family and campaigning Daytona Platinum at grand prix, so she thought Fame would suit me and offered me the ride.

    “We haven’t made any firm plans as we are just seeing how it goes, but I love riding Fame – he loves his job and is a real overachiever. He is just divine to ride. He’s hot and goey and just needs steering in a calm way.”

    Before his win with Fame, Carl’s last competitive outing was at Keysoe CDI in March 2022, when he won the grand prix and special with his Olympic team horse En Vogue. His plans to campaign Vogue for the 2022 World Dressage Championships were scuppered after the Jazz son suffered an injury last spring, and Carl told H&H he hadn’t realised quite how long it had been since he rode between the white boards.

    “It was so nice to just go to a local show and ease myself back into it,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily expect to enjoy it but I did.”

    Carl has been kept busy over the winter, taking over the riding of several of Charlotte Dujardin’s horses while she is pregnant, including her 2022 team silver medallist Imhotep (Pete).

    “Charlotte has about four weeks to go and has stopped riding – she is being very sensible,” said Carl. “I’ll take Pete out to compete soon but he didn’t quite feel ready this time.”

    Carl also confirmed that his plan is to wait for the outdoor season before bringing En Vogue back out.

    “Vogue is feeling very well – he’s 14 going on four!” said Carl. “He looks a million dollars but I’ll wait until May and hopefully start him at Windsor or Hickstead. I can’t wait to get him back out again – it’s so nice to have him sound and fit.”

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