Carl Hester has come third in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final, after Nip Tuck produced a ‘faultless’ performance in the Freestyle to Music.
Carl’s stunning routine was set to the theme from the ITV series Mr Selfridge and saw two of the judges award him over 90% for artistic marks. His final score of 83.757%, was close to Carl’s personal best, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat world number one Isabell Werth in first place and Laura Graves, who came second.
“I think he gave his maximum so I can’t be disappointed when he did his absolute best,” said Carl after his test.
This was Isabell’s third World Cup title, although her last win was back in 2007. The mare that helped her back to the top is Weihegold, with whom she won team gold and individual silver at the Rio Olympics. Their freestyle oozed elegance to score a winning mark of 90.704%.
“It’s special to win again after ten years, to come back with a different kind of horse and after a really great season,” said Isabell, who is the most decorated equestrian athlete of all time.
“I’m very happy and I’m also thankful, because I know what it’s like to be downstairs, and I’m really happy and grateful to be upstairs again!”
USA’s Laura scored a personal best of 85.305% with Verdades, much to the delight of the home crowd.
“Finishing second to the number one in the world still feels a lot like winning,” said Laura. “This is my first time on a podium as an individual and that was very special. I won’t forget it, that’s for sure.”
The opening Grand Prix on Friday saw the same riders in the top three, with Isabell, Laura and Carl once again taking first, second and third place.
“I always give my horse an easy ride in the Grand Prix so that he’s perfectly rideable for Saturday,” said Carl, who scored 76.671%.
The 14-year-old gelding, who is owned by Carl and Jane de la Mare, struggled to settle after a long journey to Omaha in Nebraska and was off his food all week.
“He’s really missing Valegro who he’d normally be travelling with and when he’s not there he frets,” Carl said. “He has no-one to grab hold of, but he’ll have to get used to it. He’s been eating hay at least, but Alan [his groom] has had to hand-feed him for the last few days.”
Despite his nerves, Carl was delighted that Barney “tried his heart out”.
“I can ask for no more and am so very proud of our quirky, big softy who put all his trust in me,” he said.
You can catch highlights from the World Cup Final right here on H&C. FEI World Cup Dressage: Final premieres on Sunday 9 April at 9pm on Sky 253, or you can watch online by subscribing to H&C Play.