‘He feels so much better than last year’: Carl Hester spearheads line-up at first British dressage international of 2022

  • A glittering line-up stuffed with Olympic and Paralympic stars will be in action this week at the Keysoe International 2022, in the CDI3* and CPEDI3*.

    Keysoe is the first international dressage show to be held on home soil in 2022, and as in previous years has attracted a strong contingent of riders, many of whom will be kick-starting campaigns for selection for the dressage World Championships in August. 

    Carl Hester will start as favourite in the CDI, riding En Vogue in the combination’s first competitive outing since helping Britain claim team silver at the European Dressage Championships at Hagen, Germany, in September 2021. Carl and the 13-year-old Jazz x Contango gelding, who was formerly competed by owner Charlotte Dujardin, finished sixth individually in the grand prix special at Hagen, one place better than in the same test at the Tokyo Olympics two months earlier, where they helped Britain bring home bronze

    Carl has reported that Vogue is feeling “incredible” after spending the winter training quietly at home.

    “He feels so much better than last year,” Carl told H&H.

    Carl’s 2021 teammate Gareth Hughes will also be in action at Keysoe, bringing forward his European team medallist Sintano Van Hof Olympia, by Sandro Hit. The pair were also travelling alternates for the British team in Tokyo. 

    Gareth has three horses entered in total – the 13-year-old Diamond Hit stallion KK Dominant, also in the big tour, and the 10-year-old Chippendale gelding Happiness, in the small tour.

    Other top British combinations on the start list for Keysoe include Hayley Watson-Greaves on Rubins Nite, Louise Bell with Into The Blue, and Emma Hindle riding Diesel 8. Micheal Eilberg will also be competing at his first international show since 2018. He brings forward his small tour rides, the 10-year-old Fidertanz son Figlio, and the nine-year-old Dante Weltino son Dante VX. 

    Nine nations will be represented in the CDI classes, with a strong contingent of Irish riders in action, including Dane Rawlins, Alex Baker and Abi Lyle. 

    Keysoe international 2022: Paralympians on form

    Britain’s Paralympic medallists from Tokyo in 2021 are also in action at Keysoe this week, including members of the gold medal-winning team, Sophie Wells and Lee Pearson, plus individual bronze medallist Georgia Wilson.

    Sophie and Georgia have already got their week off to a winning start. Sophie topped the grade V team test on Monday (14 March) with the eight-year-old Charmeur gelding Classic Jillz Geuzenhof, finishing second on her Tokyo ride Don Cara M. Meanwhile Georgia and her Paralympic ride Sakura headed the grade II team test, ahead of Lee in second riding the eight-year-old Shire gelding Roughcote Jupiter. 

    Keysoe will also host international classes at pony, children-on-horses, junior, young rider and under-25 levels. Spearheading the youth line-ups is Annabella Pidgley, who brings forward her double junior European individual silver medallist from 2021, Sultan Des Paluds. Annabella will also make her competition and international debut with the eight-year-old Escolar x Dimaggio mare Espe, who recently returned home to the Pidgleys’ yard after a stint training with Olympic rider Cathrine Dufour in Denmark.

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