The World's best dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Carl Hester became the winner of the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix on Tuesday evening 13 December 2016 aboard his Rio Team silver medal winning horse Nip Tuck.
In addition to the top-class competition, Britain's favourite horse, Valegro, graced the arena along with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, ahead of his retirement tomorrow, and Emile Faurie also gave a foot perfect masterclass.
Olympia kicked off in great style with the first night’s full house witnessing British Olympic rider Carl Hester win the Grand Prix. The British favourite produced a controlled and confident test from the giant Nip Tuck who, despite being 12 years old, is still a notoriously spooky horse. The pair produced particularly impressive piaffe and passage and claimed a unanimous win from the five judges.
“I am very happy with him tonight,” said the Gloucestershire rider. “This time last year it took another 24 hours to get to this point. We can improve on the score and yes I need to be more attacking in the ride to gain the higher marks but tonight was a stepping stone to that and, considering how spooky he can be, he is becoming a very reliable horse.”
Dutch Olympic team riders Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal, regular visitors to the London Show, were second and third.
Hans Peter and Flirt, the reigning World Cup champions stand second. It was just the second show for the pair since their World Cup win in Gothenburg in April.
“I am very satisfied with Flirt, especially as he had all summer off and only came back at Maastricht where he was second. Already he feels improved and hopefully he will be better again tomorrow,” said Hans Peter who has been coming to the London show for the last ten years. “We always try to do this show and now feel very much at home here in London. It has a great atmosphere and is good way to end the year.”
It was also only the second outing for the stallion Voice since he competed with Edward Gal at the Olympic Games in Rio.
He said; “Yes he was a little overwhelmed by the atmosphere and a little bit too much of a stallion in the warm-up – which is quite small and was busy with other horses – so he was a bit difficult and falling into the corners and a little against my hand at times, but we can most certainly can do better and tomorrow we start again.”
The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle starts tomorrow night at 7.30pm after which the audience will have their tissues at the ready for the retirement ceremony of the British team Olympic gold medallist horse Valegro.