Carl Hester has won his 10th national champion title in front of a delighted crowd aboard his World, European and Olympic medal-winning campaigner Nip Tuck.
The British dressage icon topped both the grand prix and the freestyle to take his tally of wins at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships (12 to 15 September) to 67 — 68 including the overall champion title.
The pair showed their class to secure the win in Saturday’s grand prix with a score of 75.82%, before topping Sunday’s freestyle by close to three percent on 78.48%.
Carl rode the 15-year-old Don Ruto gelding, who he co-owns with Jane de la Mare, to his Rio music. They masterfully executed the difficult floor plan, which featured a highly technical opening centre line as well 23 one-time changes on a curve, to be rewarded with the overall champion title.
“Double figures on ‘Barney’ is the icing on the cake,” said Carl, adding the horse gave him “everything”.
“He deserves his national title, he’s never had one before and he deserved that for what he has done for British dressage.
“He has been fourth at the European Championships, top-10 at an Olympics and third at a World Cup final. He has more than flown the flag for British dressage.
“He was due the win — not me — he was.”
The pair delighted the crowd with an extended lap of honour and Carl let the horse move up a gear to motor around Stoneleigh’s atmospheric arena to cheers.
“The national championships is a huge feature for all our riders from grassroots to grand prix,” said Carl, adding he loves both watching and competing here.
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Last year’s national champion Lara Butler finished runner-up aboard Dr Bechtolsheimer’s Kristjan in both the grand prix (73.06%) and the freestyle (75.55%) to take reserve champion.
Lara rode the 14-year-old gelding to her Celtic soundtrack, which she previously used with her great campaigner Rubin Al Asad. Louise Bell and the popular Into The Blue were third in the freestyle, performing a routine to a mix of country, pop and musical hits, on a score of 73.6%, while Laura Tomlinson and the powerful stallion Duvals Capri Sonne Jr took third in the grand prix on 71.06%.
For the full report from the LeMieux National Dressage Championships, don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — out Thursday (19 September).