Carl Hester and Uthopia brought the house down on Sunday afternoon at the Espayo National Dressage Championships in winning the Espayo Freestyle title and becoming National Champion for a lucky seventh time.
There wasn’t a seat to be had around the main arena for the final quintet of horses but there was one combination many really wanted to see. Ever the showman, Carl didn’t disappoint the gathered fans of all ages and he rode Uthopia to a near-perfect performance using the music Tom Hunt had prepared for them for the Olympics for a fantastic 81.50%, first ever +80% score at the Nationals. Fellow Gloucestershire rider Laura Bechtolsheimer gave her best shot with loyal partner Andretti H to their foot tapping Reggae music but they just couldn’t match Carl with 76.58%. Michael Eilberg, from Beoley in Worcestershire, and the British-bred Half Moon Delphi, still in their first season of Grand Prix, also gave it a good try with some promising work to score 76.35% for owners Jon and Julie Deverill.
Carl finished the week with 63 national titles to date and his seventh National Champion accolade cementing his position as a sporting icon in Britain.
“It’s been great to be able to bring ‘Uti’ here to support those who weren’t able to come to London plus it was fantastic to be able to ride to Tom’s music once again. I’m so pleased with the test today – I stayed in time with the music unlike London where I seemed to be either too fast or too slow. He’s as fit as ever and was really in super self-carriage today. He felt confident and even though there were a few mistakes, it was lovely.”