Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester made a flying start to the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show as dressage took centre-stage on day one in Cheshire.
Hester, whose glittering career is highlighted by Olympic and European team golds for Great Britain, won the Berkeley Group CDI three-star grand prix, riding the richly-promising Barolo.
The combination backed up a double success at last month’s Royal Windsor Horse Show by taking the grand prix honours on a score of 74.24 per cent to head a British clean sweep of the podium in Bolesworth’s first international dressage competition.
Hester’s Great Britain team colleague Gareth Hughes finished second on Don Carissimo, posting 72.92 per cent, while Gillian Davison and Alfranco took third. Denmark’s Anders Dahl showcased his consistency with fourth and fifth spots on Selten HW and Sir Donato, respectively, with New Zealand’s Wendi Williamson sixth aboard Dejavu MH.
And the grand prix’s true international feel was further highlighted by riders from the likes of Hong Kong, Brazil and Finland also taking part, as dressage at Bolesworth was launched in style.
A packed programme continues on Thursday with the grand prix special and freestyle, plus a number of young horse classes, with Britain’s double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin lining up on a number of her promising prospects, one of which might well lead her all the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Hester was Wednesday’s headline act, though, and he was understandably delighted following another victorious performance on the chestnut gelding that he co-owns with Anne Seifert-Cohn as a bumper crowd cheered its approval.
“He is very genuine. His piaffes have improved, and look how far he has come since last year,” Hester said. “He feels really genuine in there.
“The horse has never had a young horse education. He came straight in doing grands prix two years ago, and he wasn’t really ready, so we went back a couple of steps.
“He is so talented and so capable. I love riding him and I get on with him really well. I do enjoy it.
“The technical side of things is improving all the time. He is getting stronger.”
The Bolesworth International’s five-day spectacular runs until Sunday, culminating in the international showjumping grand prix, which is set to attract a world-class field.