Carl Hester: Will we see two British teams in 2021? *H&H Plus*


  • H&H’s dressage columnist is excited about the idea of having two championships next year

    Back in 2005, Hagen stepped in to host a fantastic European Championships after the original venue, Moscow, fell short on financing. This year, Hagen hosted the first national then international shows after Germany came out of lockdown.

    The organisers there are an adaptive force and it would take this sort of mobilisation if the FEI takes the sensible approach suggested by the European Equestrian Federation for 2021 and holds a European Championship, whether or not the Olympics go ahead. This is also something I suggested in a column earlier this year and Richard Davison reinforced in his recent interview.

    I’d join Richard in the “delighted” camp if there were to be two championships next year. Britain, along with other nations, has the strength in depth potentially to field two top teams. That is a great thing for our sport.

    So, I was delighted to hear from Ulli Kasselmann at Hagen that plans are not only afoot but in place, and have been submitted to the FEI. He and his team are awaiting a response. Let’s hope the FEI does the right thing and gives Hagen the go-ahead.

    “A fantastic opportunity”

    It is very sad that Olympia can’t take place this Christmas; it means a huge amount to us riders. It is totally understandable, of course, being indoors and in central London, and the decision to cancel was the only option. But I have a suggestion that British Dressage (BD) is considering as I write: why not put on a national grand prix championship, as so many other major dressage nations have this year?

    It would be a fantastic opportunity for all our top combinations to attend, and that is something that we haven’t seen at the BD nationals due to clashes with each year’s international championship. We would be able to crown a true national champion, and if it were to be livestreamed everyone could watch. We have five five-star judges in this country now in Andrew Gardner, Isobel Wessels, Stephen Clarke, Peter Storr and Clive Halsall – how fantastic it would be to be judged by them.

    It’s possible, although with protocols in place and behind closed doors. It would not have the awesome atmosphere and the amazing crowd of Olympia, but if we could run a grand prix and a freestyle this December, what a Christmas it would be. Come on British Dressage!

    Time to adapt

    We have to look forward and adapt in this uncertainty, which makes me think about the fact we might not be able to continue to have so many various events, such as clinics abroad, what with all the expenses involved – flights, venue hire, fees and so on.

    It means that in the future we’re all going to have to shave our costs and be prepared to be creative in order to keep the income streams going throughout the industry, and not lose any cogs in the wheels that turn it.

    “Expect less”

    It was really good to get En Vogue out to do a grand prix recently to see how he fared in competition. As I’ve said before, we all think we can win gold at home! It can be daunting even for a seasoned competitor like me, but the older you get the more you realise that not only is winning not that important, but it is also not essential when you are forming a partnership. You need to expect less.

    I wanted to give him a good relaxed ride and find out what he was like in an arena. I now know he’s a very exciting prospect if I’m lucky enough to be selected for the British team, and thank you Charlotte Dujardin for giving me the ride. That said, if BD do take up my challenge, winning might just become more important again!

    Ref Horse & Hound; 1 October 2020


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