Carl comes close to the perfect score with superstar Quinn G

Carl Hester dug out his short coat for the first time in years to ride an extraordinary six-year-old  

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Carl Hester has enjoyed an excellent week at the I.C.E. Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival, picking up a win in the Premier League Grand Prix with En Vogue as well as finishing runner-up in the CDI 3* Grand Prix Special with Fame. Yet it was a stand-out performance in the KBIS British Dressage Young Horse classes that Carl pinpointed as his highlight of the show.

Riding Fiona Bigwood’s mare Quinn G, Carl took the 6yo Commanded Route title with an impressive score of 98.4% - getting perfect 10s from the judges for her walk, canter and general impression.

“I'm just a pilot on a very special horse, she is quite something. I've never had a score of 98.4 in my life,” said the six-time Olympian. “It's the sort of score you can die quite happy after. If I had to retire tomorrow, at least that's on my CV.”

The Danish warmblood Quinn M (Quaterhit x Fassbinder) was sold to Great Britain last year, after picking up the gold medal at the World Championships for Young Horses as a five-year-old. “After the World Championships I think a lot of people knew she was going to be a star, but let's hope she just keeps developing and moves forward really successfully,” Carl added.

Asked what made her special, he said: “She has this amazing walk, trot and canter, she's like a panther, and she's such a clever, intelligent soul. But she takes some riding because she's so big and such a big mover. How blessed to get to ride a horse like that, they don't come along very often. I really feel like she's a creature from heaven.”

Hester rarely competes below Grand Prix level, so he had to dig out his short dressage coat for the first time since his London 2012 ride Uthopia was competing in young horse classes. After their record score in Friday’s competition, Carl had to get to grips with the test for Saturday’s I.C.E. Horseboxes British Dressage International Young Horse class, which they duly won with a score of 97.0. “Fiona told me this morning that she couldn’t read the test to me, that I needed to learn it – and my brain is not as good as it used to be! That’s all I was worrying about as I was riding round, that I wouldn't know where I'm going. I learned it in five minutes. But it's fun to do something different."

While it was Carl’s protégée Charlotte Dujardin who produced a clean sweep in the CDI Grand Prix classes at the show, Carl also produced two superb tests with his European team gold medallist Fame to finish third in the Grand Prix and second in the Grand Prix Special. “We are rivals but I’ll happily accept that she’s better than me!” Carl said. “I love watching her ride and I thought Imhotep did one of the best Grand Prix tests that he’s ever done in terms of relaxation, contact and his frame, he just keeps getting better and better.”


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