Carl Hester’s former team horse sold to new rider: ‘It’s like something out of a dream’

  • Hawtins Delicato, the former top ride of Carl Hester who was more recently campaigned by fellow Olympian Fiona Bigwood, has been sold to a new rider.

    “I keep needing to pinch myself that he’s standing in my barn,” said Del’s new owner, the Aberdeen-based grand prix dressage rider Fenella Quinn.

    The 14-year-old Diamond Hit son was part of the bronze medal-winning team at the World Equestrian Games in 2018 with Carl, during the gelding’s first year at grand prix. In their final international appearance together in 2019, Carl and Del were second to Charlotte and Mount St John Freestyle, at Olympia, where they scored 84.47% in the freestyle.

    When the Tokyo Olympics were postponed in 2020 owing to the pandemic, Carl offered Fiona the opportunity to have a sit on Del and she later bought him. Fiona and Del made their competition debut together in April 2021, and picked up a number of top placings throughout the year, including wins in the grand prix special at the Hartpury and Sint Truiden Internationals and the Keysoe High Profile.

    “I’d always loved Del, he was a horse I always really enjoyed watching and when I heard he was on the market I knew I had to go and try him,” Fenella told H&H.

    Grand prix dressage rider has taken on the former ride of Carl Hester, Hawtins Delicato

    Fenella pictured on Del

    The 28-year-old had been “quietly keeping her eyes open” for another grand prix horse after her top ride, Creatzo, suffered a field injury shortly following his return from the Compiegne CDI3* in May. Fenella said it is currently unknown if he’ll return to the top level.

    “When I got the call to arrange viewing Del I was in Spain on holiday and I thought screw it; I got on a plane to London and drove to view him at Carl’s before anyone knew I’d left.”

    Fenella, who made her grand prix debut in 2021, said riding Del for the first time was “every bit as magical as she’d hoped it would be”.

    “It was extremely nerve-wracking riding in front of Carl – combined with riding a horse he’d trained and competed. I didn’t even have any of my own stuff with me because I’d come from Spain so Abi Lyle (Fenella’s trainer) met me with her boots and hat,” she said.

    “Carl was lovely and made me so at ease and really helped me. Del is just like something out of a dream, he’s so lovely, light, responsive – he’s a joy to ride. I managed to get a little bit of everything from him during that first ride, it was amazing.”

    Del arrived at his new home in Aberdeen last Thursday (29 September).

    “Before he came home I spent two days at Carl’s having some training. Abi and my mum Jacqui came too, so we were taking lots of notes and I got lots of tips on how to ride things and which buttons to press,” said Fenella.

    “He’s settled in so well. We keep laughing thinking ‘Is that really Hawtins Delicato standing in our barn?’ It’s like being starstruck – it’s very cool. I’ve always heard people describe him as a gentleman and that describes him perfectly. He’s really kind, loves attention and cuddles. He’s a quiet, gentle character.”

    Fenella said owning the former ride of two Olympians comes with some pressure.

    “We have no plans for the rest of 2022; we’re going to pick away at home and spend the time getting to know each other. Next spring we’ll probably aim for a couple of the early Premier Leagues, then head for some CDIs and see what happens. I will train predominantly with Abi as I always have, but hopefully Carl will be able to give me some help too. He told me ‘Go and find your feet and I’m here if you need anything’ – so hopefully next year we’ll get back down for more training,” she said.

    “There’s definitely a huge amount of pressure buying Del and I went into it with my eyes open. I know the chances of emulating the success Carl had with him is pretty slim, but I just want to be able to have my own partnership. He’s going to teach me so much – and has already – and I hope we can create our own career together.”

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