Carl Hester and Nip Tuck delighted a full house with their winning test that scored high artistic marks and a final total of 79.45% just short of a personal freestyle best for the pair. The combination, members of the British Dressage team that won silver at the World Equestrian Games last year, ably demonstrated rhythmic trot work, passage and piaffe and beautifully fluent changes of which his rider was particularly proud. “This horse has never, in all his tests made a mistake in his changes – all he wants to do is his best and he always tries his hardest,” said Carl who was however slightly disappointed with the final mark. “My aim was 80% and we didn’t quite make it – perhaps the walk wasn’t quite the same as in the grand prix but no matter he was really good. Make no mistake this arena is a major ring with a big atmosphere and it is so good for us to be able to ride here.”
Carl’s pupil Fiona Bigwood made an emotional return to the top with her young mare Atterupsgaards Orthilia. Emotional as not only was it a big welcome back for Fiona who suffered a serious fall a year ago but she also rode her freestyle to music made for her former horse Mr G who tragically died in a field accident.
“I haven’t ridden to that music for four or five years and it was all a bit emotional for me – I loved Mr G and I love Tilly also,” said Fiona. “I had no idea how she would react to the atmosphere, music and the crowd as she is quite hot but she just got on with it and has such a great attitude.”
The mare who was found in Denmark 18 months ago has a natural ability for piaffe and passage and was described by Carl as ‘an 80% horse’.
He said; “All Fiona has to do is to continue increasing her confidence in the ring and she’ll be in the top five in the world – that horse can make us a gold medal team again.” The British pair will both now compete at the CDI in Fritzens in Austria.
Fiona’s husband, Danish rider Anders Dahl, kept it in the family with third place on Wie Atlantico. It was also one place higher than last year for Anders and Atlantico who showed particularly impressive passage.
“He felt very fresh today,” said Anders. “And I am really happy with his attitude.”
Atlantico who has now competed at grand prix for eight years, was formerly ridden by Fiona to win British team silver in 2010 and was then subsequently ridden by Carl when Fiona was expecting before going to Anders. And he is now ridden by their daughter – albeit on the lunge.
“He is just the most, kindest genuine horse there is,” said Fiona.