Carl Hester rockets to top of Hagen Europeans leaderboard in grand prix special

  • Carl Hester has thrown the gauntlet down in the grand prix special at the European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany after a stunning test with En Vogue.

    Riding the 12-year-old son of Jazz, owned by Charlotte Dujardin and Lady Anne Evans, Carl scored an impressive 77.31% in a class where the marks are slightly lower across the board than some would expect.

    “I thought that test was as good as the one we did in Tokyo, if not maybe a little bit better than Tokyo,” Carl said afterwards. “I thought our mark was a little bit less than we deserved, but I got the ride I wanted to get – he was relaxed and calm.”

    Carl said it was definitely an improvement on his performance in the team test yesterday.

    “I always know if he’s going to be funny as his piaffes get more and more wild and then I start to think ‘oh my God, here we go’. But tonight, he was like, ‘that’s fine’ and that’s all you want in a championship really is for the horse to grow throughout the competition. I don’t expect to win when he’s this young, but I want him to improve and have a good experience.”

    The weather in Hagen has been incredibly warm since the beginning of the week and it is particularly humid too. Carl said that probably had an effect on En Vogue this evening, combined with the fact that he has only recently arrived back from Tokyo.

    “He felt a bit tired in the warm-up today, and he never feels tired – I think the weather hasn’t helped and he has probably crashed a little bit after the excitement of Tokyo, going home, then coming here and it’s maybe starting to catch up with him slightly.”

    With 10 more combinations to come forward in this class, Carl leads from The Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere and Haute Couture in second on 75.69% and Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Annabelle in third on 75.28%.

    Charlotte Dujardin and Renai Hart, Carl Hester and her own Gio, third-place finishers in the grand prix yesterday, will go at 10pm (9pm BST), while Lottie Fry and her own and Van Olst Horses’ Everdale are the penultimate combination into the arena tonight at the European Dressage Championships, at 10.20pm (9.20pm BST).

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