Bedfordshire, Friday 15th March: Friday night saw a winning return to the competition arena for British dressage sensation Carl Hester and crowd favourite Nip Tuck in the Equine Construction Grand Prix.
Jane De La Mare and Carl’s 15-year-old gelding (Irena x Don Ruto) hasn’t been seen in competition since the European Championships in Gothenburg 2017. It was announced in February that the pair would make their return to competition at Keysoe CDI3*.
“He last did the Europeans in 2017, and it does feel like it’s been ages! He was fourth there, and Jane and I thought he’d probably done the best he could ever do, so last year he had some time off – he’d done four major championships in a row” commented Carl following their win.
The infamously spooky gelding looked to be in his element entering the arena. Delivering a test that delighted the audience, Nip Tuck appeared to have been well-served by his extended holiday.
“He just feels so well. It was like riding a ten-year-old – he doesn’t feel anything like his age. He’s just so excited to be out and so happy. So, I’d said to Jane, ‘Look, I need a horse to fill in for some shows over here’, because Delicato needs to step up this year and do more shows abroad. But we’ve not got a lot of top-level British riders, and it’s so important that we represent at the home internationals and try to help out these guys who bother to put on internationals. He’s a brilliant horse to do that with. I thought, I’ll bring him to Keysoe and then Windsor – that’s the plan, just keep him happy. We both enjoy it, and the horse loves being out and about, and Jane will ride him in between.”
The pair deivered a score of 74.457%, some 4% away from their personal best, yet full of enjoyment and harmony between horse and rider.
“He obviously knows when I get on that I’ve got an electric backside, because he’s like, “ooooh, what are we doing?!” But that’s why I love him. He doesn’t feel any different than he did five years ago. I can just hop on and enjoy him. Tonight, there were a few mistakes, but it was just because he was a bit excited.”
Keysoe owner and show director Simon Bates added, “it is always a pleasure to welcome Carl to Keysoe and we’re very grateful to have Nip Tuck making his competitive return here. It was a bit of a treat for the local crowd to watch such a world-class field.”
Triple Olympic gold medallist and current FEI world ranked number 7 Charlotte Dujardin was narrowly beaten into second place by her trainer and mentor. On catch ride Erlentanz, following an injury to owner and rider Sonner Murray-Brown, Charlotte delivered a 73.413% test. A number of minor mistakes kept them off the top spot.
Dujardin also took the Spillers Prix St George earlier in the afternoon with Mount St John VIP on 76.941%.