‘I’m saving something for Paris’: Imhotep imperious as Carl Hester debuts new music

  • Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep continued their preparations for the Paris Olympics by winning the CDI3* grand prix (79.89%) and grand prix special (77.64%) at the Wellington International Festival of Dressage (4-11 June).

    Wellington will play a key role in the final decisions of the selectors for Paris. There are no more home internationals scheduled between now and the definite entries selection meeting on or around 17 June.

    Charlotte and Imhotep look to be shoo-ins for a team spot. And as combinations across Europe race to impress selectors, their scores compare favourably to other medal contenders.

    Charlotte Dujardin on Imhotep: “You don’t want to do your best test now”

    Imhotep’s grand prix score at Wellington was higher than Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera’s 78.64% at this weekend’s German Dressage Championships (6–9 June) and Lottie Fry and Glamourdale’s 78.94% at the recent Aachen Dressage Days CDI3* (21–22 May).

    Of course, it is difficult to compare scores from different sets of judges, but the fact five judges at Wellington will also be part of the judging panel for the Olympic dressage competition in Paris should give Charlotte cause for optimism.

    I’m 100% saving something for Paris,” said Charlotte. “He’s a hot horse but he stayed with me and was so rideable – and he’s still improving.

    “This is a very important competition pre-Paris, especially having five Olympic judges here. It’s good to see where we are, to peak at the right time. You don’t want to do your best test now.”

    Mistakes in both sets of tempi changes brought Charlotte’s score down in the special, but that did not seem to concern her too much.

    “I had a few errors but that’s what today’s for, to polish it up for Paris,” she said.

    Carl Hester: “I haven’t had time to practise it”

    Carl Hester and Fame also tightened their grip on a team spot by coming second in the grand prix (77.46%) and winning the freestyle (83.94%) – in which Carl debuted a new floorplan.

    “I need to get my timing right to the music, but I haven’t had time to practise it,” Carl said. “I was almost teaching him in the warm-up!

    “I’m not a music specialist, but this is really fun. It has a French feeling and I thought, ‘If I ever get to Paris, this is what I’m going down the last centre line to’.”

    Carl was also third in the grand prix (71.78%) and second in the special (74.15%) on En Vogue.

    The 15-year-old former Olympic team bronze medal winner now looks set to play backup to his younger stablemate again – in a repeat of the battle that played out between them for European selection last year.

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