Carl Hester’s Last Competition Ride on Uthopia at London Olympia
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Carl Hester’s ride on Uthopia at London’s Olympia Tuesday night was the end of an historic journey that won the pair an Olympic gold medal for Great Britain’s team before a home crowd this summer.
Carl chose the year-end International Horse Show at Olympia that has become a Christmas tradition in the British capital as the farewell performance for the 11-year-old KWPN stallion (Metall x Odelia x Inspekteur) that he has competed at the top of the sport for almost three years. He is a partner in the ownership of the horse.
The Freestyle was the 26th international competition ride for the pair since their first CDI Grand Prix on Spain’s Sunshine Tour in March, 2010. Since then, he has been key to creating history for Great Britain by leading the team to their first ever gold medal at the European Championships in Rotterdam in 2009 and picking up silver medals in the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle.
The highlight, though, was the Olympics at London’s Greenwich Park where he rode Uthopia on the team that won gold, Britain’s first ever dressage Olympic medal of any color. At the same time, he coached Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, in which he also is a part-owner, on the gold medal team and to individual gold and to claiming world record scores at Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special this year.
The decision to end the their competition partnershp, Carl told dressage-news.com, was two-fold.
Part is a legal injunction stemming from the bankruptcy of Irish event rider Sasha Stewart who is listed with Carl as owner–though Mrs. Stewart has said she is not–that prevents Uthopia as an “asset” from leaving England.
“The horse is for sale,” Carl said, “when it’s all sorted. It was not worth the risk of competing any more, especially as I cannot go abroad. There was no future to keep going.
“I wanted to finish the year by doing Olympia with its amazing big show atmosphere.”
The pair are ranked by the International Equestrian Federation at 18th in the world, but have been ranked as high as No. 2.
Carl has said numerous times that Uthopia will be for sale after the Olympics.
“I am very grateful that the owners have allowed me to keep him to the Olympics because obviously without him we would not have won that historic team gold medal so this is my last show and hopefully I will be able to find a wonderful rider to take him on for the rest of his career,” he said.