Carl Hester was the favourite to win the 3* Grand Prix Special at the 2023 CDI Hickstead and he duly delivered with a superb win on Fiona Bigwood's catch ride Fame.
The "All England Dressage Festival" in Hickstead made a come back on the international calendar after a three year break as previous show organizer Dane Rawlins called it quits in 2020 (with the last CDI happening in 2018) and the management of the show was given into new hands.
A Treble of Victories
It made it a treble of Grand Prix victories for the Gloucestershire-based Olympian, having already won the Saturday's Grand Prix with the 13-year old Dutch warmblood Fame (by Bordeaux x Rhodium), as well as the national Grand Prix with Olympic mount, En Vogue (by Jazz x Contango), who made his long-awaited come back after a period of injury.
In a repeat of Saturday’s results with a GP win on 76.326%, Carl took the Special with 75.468%, ahead of Laura Tomlinson and the 13-year old DSP mare Rose of Bavaria (by Bordeaux x Florestan) on 69.979%.
“It's always nice to have a horse that you know when it's good, it's really good,” said Carl. “There were a few mistakes there as well today, but it’s all a learning curve, I’m just finding my way around with him.”
Carl describes the 13-year-old gelding's character as a ‘bit spicy!’ but he was pleased with how he felt on the final day of competition. “I was really pleased with his relaxation today because it’s quite a daunting arena for horses, as they have to leave all the other horses and come down here to do their test. I was really pleased with his attitude today.”
Moody Wins the Kur
It was a British top three in the CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle to Music with Becky Moody taking the win on Jagerbomb (by Dante Weltino x Jazz) with a score of 75.710%. The nine-year-old is in his first season competing at Big Tour, having been a prolific winner as he’s moved up through the levels to Grand Prix.
Close on their heels was last year’s Grand Prix Special winner Andrew Gould, who scored 75.215 with Indigro to take second place, while Louise Bell was third with Into The Blue. Louise and Into The Blue are no strangers to success at Hickstead, with the eye-catching roan being the youngest horse to ever win the Supreme Working Hunter title at the Royal International, before his switch to dressage.
Kröncke Takes the National GP Special
British-based Kathleen Kroencke (GER) and her 13-year-old Hanoverian mare Uniteds Maerchen (by United x Heraldik xx) were victorious in the national Grand Prix Special. They scored 69.878 to take the win ahead of Britain’s Alice Oppenheimer and Headmore Dionysus (by Dimaggio x Rubinstein) with 69.255%.
“I'm super pleased with my mare. I could feel she was a bit tired from yesterday but she really fought for me and did no big mistakes,” said Kathleen, who moved over to the UK three years ago and is now based in the Cotswolds. “My mare had her debut in the Grand Prix here at Hickstead last year and today it was her debut in the Special, so it's quite a special show for the two of us as a combination,” she added.
-- Hickstead press release, edited by Eurodressage