‘I remembered what it’s all about’: Carl Hester returns to international competition with grand prix win

  • Carl Hester has won the grand prix at the Tolbert CDI3* in the Netherlands, his first show on foreign soil since the European Dressage Championships in September 2021.

    Carl was riding Fame, the 13-year-old Bordeaux stallion previously competed at international grand prix by Fiona Bigwood. He has been based with Carl for around four months, and the six-time Olympian describing him as “so cool”. This is the pair’s second competition together, and they posted 75.89% to lead the field comfortably.

    “He was gorgeous; he’s so willing and always up for it,” Carl told H&H. “He was a little on the edge sometimes, but he’s just got so much ability and wants it to do it right. It’s lovely to have a horse like that. I’m keeping the lid on a little at the moment, and just trying to build confidence, but I really enjoyed it.”

    This was the first time Carl has competed internationally since March 2022, and his first overseas show in more than 18 months. His plans to take Fame to the recent Addington CDI3* were scuppered after he injured his foot last month, so he opted to make the trip to Tolbert – a new fixture on the FEI dressage calendar for 2023 – in order to gain qualification to compete at high level shows over the next few months.

    “It’s been painful riding with my foot, but I managed to get it in the boot today,” said Carl.

    “It’s been a while [since competing internationally] and I was a little apprehensive riding around at the outside, but I remembered what it’s all about. It’s a cool show, friendly. Sometimes it’s nice to do a competition just for yourself, to get to know your horse better.”

    At Tolbert, Carl Hester and Fame will go on to contest the grand prix special tomorrow (Saturday, 15 April), “and hopefully I’ll be home in time for Sunday lunch,” laughed Carl, who is aiming for both Windsor and Hickstead CDIs in May, with Fame and his Olympic horse En Vogue.

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