‘It’s still a thrill to win’: Carl Hester crowned British national champion for the 11th time

  • The Lemieux National Dressage Championships drew to a close with Carl Hester and En Vogue being crowned British national champions. It’s the 11th time Carl has taken this title during his career, the last time being in 2019 with Nip Tuck.

    It was perhaps not the biggest surprise to see Carl take the honours, however it wasn’t all plain sailing on their route to the accolade.

    The title is determined by total marks from the grand prix and grand prix freestyle. Vogue won the former with a test Carl described as, “One of the nicest grands prix I’ve ridden”, but of the latter test, Carl said: “He reminded me that Vogue is still Vogue no matter that he’s been brilliant in every other test he’s done this year!”

    Vogue scored 77.1% in the freestyle despite a few fiery moments during his complex programme.

    “He had one eye on A all the time and I wouldn’t say music is his favourite thing,” added Carl. “To be fair he’d not been ridden for eight days whilst I was at the European Dressage Championships and that’s a difficult floorplan, but he’s so talented at the more difficult movements that he needs a more challenging test.”

    Carl Hester: ‘My career is based on National Dressage Championships’

    Carl was in fact pipped to the freestyle title by Becky Moody and her home-bred Jagerbomb, who is still in his first season of grand prix, and scored 77.9%.

    “Congratulations to Becky,” Carl said. “She was travelling reserve for the Europeans, which is a hard thing to do, but she played her part brilliantly and she deserved that win today.”

    “It’s still a thrill to win the overall title,” said Carl. “My whole career is based on national championships – when I started riding that was my aim and I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve ever ridden at. One year I brought 10 horses so just to have one this time is a luxury.”

    Becky was herself delighted with her boy, whose test was expressive, fluent and correct, with her popular Tom Jones music getting everyone’s toes tapping.

    “He is an absolute legend,” she said. “It’s no secret that I would have sold him as a four or five-year-old but it just shows that temperament and trainability trumps all. He’s always going to be special to me as I bred him but today he was on another level. That was a difficult floorplan for any horse let alone a nine-year-old but he just gives it a go. The piaffe needs to be a bit sharper and the changes a touch straighter but I couldn’t be more pleased.”

    The horse is out of the Jazz mare Udysee and by Dante Weltino.

    “I’d actually wanted to use Dante Weltino’s sire Danone I but couldn’t, so in the end I took a chance and put her to his son who was only seven at the time,” Becky said. “The mare was very Jazz so trainability was not her greatest asset and I think by chance I used a stallion whose offspring have trainability by the bucket load.”

    Don’t miss the 21 September issue of H&H for 14 pages of reports from the National Dressage Championships, covering all sections and levels. 

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