Look Who's Back: Don Diego

Sat, 05/13/2023 - 11:53
Celine Wagner and Don Diego at the 2023 CDI Camarma de Esteruelas :: Photo © Lily Forado

A year and a half after officially retiring from competition sport, Juan Matute Guimon's 20-year old Don Diego has made his return to the arena under Luxembourg young rider Celine Wagner at the 2023 CDI Camarma de Esteruelas on 12 - 14 May 2023.

Don Diego is by Don Frederico out of Wie Platine (by Wolkenstein II x Matcho AA). He is bred by Claus Schütt in Hemmoor, Germany. 

Brewah and Mena

Don Diego was discovered by Juan Matute Azpitarte at the 2007 Hanoverian Spring Elite auction in Verden. The Matute family was based in Wellington, Florida, at the time, but Juan kept the 4-year old Don Diego in training in Spain. 

In 2008 the tall black gelding made his debut on the national circuit ridden by Enrique Brewah Granados. In 2011 José Antonio García Mena took over the reins and showed Don Diego in the international small tour classes at the Sunshine tour in Vejer de la Frontera. They won silver medal at the 2011 Spanish Small Tour Championships.

Juan Matute Guimon

With Jose Mena at the 2011 Sunshine Tour
In the winter of 2011-2012 Don Diego joined the Matutes in Wellington, Florida, where he became Juan Matute junior's career starting horse, taking him from junior level to Grand Prix.  

The pair made its international show debut at junior level at the 2012 CDI West Palm Beach. They competed extensively in Florida that winter with twelve competition starts of which eleven were winning ones. The gelding took Juan to his first European Championships, the Junior Euros in Berne, Switzerland, where they were 25th in the individual test. 

In 2013 the pair finished fourth at 2013 European Junior Riders Championships. In 2014 they competed in the senior small tour in Wellington and finished the season there with their first Under 25 CDI start. In 2015 the duo rode in its first World Cup qualifiers in Wellington. In 2016 they achieved the apex in their career together, representing Spain at the inaugural European under 25 championships in Hagen, where they won short Grand Prix test bronze. 

Bronze at the 2016 Under 25 Euros
As of 2017 Matute's younger horse Quantico took over the number one spot in the barn, while Don Diego continued to compete non stop in the Under 25 as well as the senior Grand Prix divisions. In 2017 they became Spanish Under 25 Champions in Segovia. In 2018 Don Diego went full throttle with a full Wellington season, winning the Under 25 Nations Cup CDIO, followed by CDI Segovia and CDIO-U25 Aachen. He then got a long break and returned to the arena at the 2019 CDI Doha.

In the 2020-2021 corona years the aging Don Diego was able to shift down a gear and only did two shows in Wellington 2020 and then was off from CDI competition for fifteen months as Juan suffered a life-threatening brain bleed in May 2020 from which he has fully recovered.

In 2021 Don Diego returned to the CDI stage at Camarma de Esteruela. In October 2021 it was announced that Don Diego would be officially retired from sport after 11 years competing internationally of which eight were at Grand Prix level. The gelding went down his final centerline at the CDI4* Madrid.

Retirement? Return with Céline Wagner

One and a half years later, the now 20-year old black Hanoverian has returned to the international arena under Luxembourg's Céline Wagner.

Celine and Juan Matute Guimon
"I am currently a student at IE University (in Madrid) where I am doing a dual degree in Business and International Relations," said Wagner. "I have always been a very passionate horse rider thus I reached out to the Matute Family. They have been very generous to me to offer Juan‘s super star, Don Diego."

At the 2023 CDI Camarma de Esteruela Wagner and Don Diego competed in the Young Riders' team test, finishing 11th with 63.922%. 

Wagner, who is not related to Luxembourg dressage Olympian Nicolas Wagner, told Eurodressage that Don Diego was put back in work after he looked unhappy retired in the field. 

"A true competition horse, he was not happy in the retirement," said Wagner. "He got very skinny, lost a lot of muscles, and seemed very unhappy. So Juan decided to put him back to the barn. He never lost his ambition to the training. Hence, as a young rider I need much to learn and Don Diego is the best school master I could ask for."

Celine and Don Diego
The 21-year old Spanish based Wagner made her international show debut in 2019 at the CDI Leudelange aboard the 5-year old Soleil d'Amour (by San Amour x Dacaprio). Two years later she returned to the CDI ring in Cascais, Portugal, competing the now 9-year old Hanoverian Demian (by De Niro x Dimaggio). Céline showed the grey gelding in three CDI's: Cascais, Camarma and Segovia. He has now moved on with a new rider, Alvaro Martin de la Fuente. 

Celine plans to learn as much as she can from Don Diego this show season. 

"We have only been training for a short period of time so there is a lot of room for improvement from my side," she explained. "We are looking to compete in a few small shows for this season. Moreover, Juan‘s mother will further enjoy riding him later this year."

Photos © Lily Forado - Astrid Appels

Related Links
Scores: 2023 CDI Camarma de Esteruelas
Juan Matute Guimon Retires Don Diego from Sport