Wessels and Hester Win Big on Day Three of 2012 British Championships
Isobel Wessels and the elegant Chagall confirmed their standing as the leading combination at Intermediate I level today when they took the Inter I Freestyle class to add to the same title they won five months ago at the Winter Championships. Today’s result combined with second in the Inter I yesterday also gave them the supreme champion title.
It was a successful end to three busy days and Chagall, jointly owned by Isobel and Brigit Powell, gave his all to score 73.38% despite his rider saying he was feeling quite tired. The combination has had a relatively quiet season but always come to championships firing on all cylinders and today was a perfect example. The choice of music was jazzy and upbeat and Isobel set a complicated floorplan. However, Chagall’s obliging nature cost them. Isobel said; “I do a canter pirouette before our line of three-time changes and I just didn’t give him enough time before asking for the first change so he surprised me by changing so we set off to do two times!”
She continued; “I always have a terrific ride on him, all mistakes are always mine. He usually does too much, never not enough. He listened, he was on the aids, totally responsive, lovely in the contact, honest - I just can’t ask any more from him. He’s just a truly special horse.”
In her prize giving interview, Isobel was quick to praise the team at Carl Hester’s base, Oakelbrook Mill where Chagall is stabled. “I couldn’t do it without them and they’re the happiest team to work with. Also, I have to thank my husband Justin who supports me and trails round helping!”
Isobel now faces a troubled winter where she’ll have to make a decision about which path her career takes. As a ‘O’ level international judge, she can’t ride at Grand Prix level internationally. However, Chagall is already showing talent for piaffe and the passage is coming so naturally, the temptation is to follow the riding path. Either way, in Isobel’s words, today it was “not bad for any old lady!”
Second spot went to Emile Faurie riding Ann Willetts’ Corbiere II with 71.43% while Maria Eilberg was third by a small margin with Lynne and Dave Crowden’s Woodlander Rockstar on 71.40%.
It has been a whirlwind two months for Carl Hester and Uthopia and today they drew packed stands at Stoneleigh as they delivered an almost foot-prefect performance to win the Dyon Grand Prix with a score of 76.55%.
Uthopia, who has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks, looked in great shape after the exertions of the Olympics and the test was a demonstration of the harmonious partnership he and Carl share.
Of course, the atmosphere was a little different to that of Greenwich Park, but the enthusiasm of the spectators was a match for it. Carl said ‘It was a great atmosphere, and it was great to ride in front a home crowd again, many of whom may not have been able to get to the Olympics.’
Carl said he was very pleased with the test, and that Uthopia was fantastic to ride. He said ‘although we had a small mistake, I don’t focus on that, I focus on all the bits that were amazing.’
The pair will now go on on to tomorrow’s Grand Prix Freestyle, where Carl hopes to improve on his London performance where he performed to his new music arrangement for the first time. ‘I will be going for an 80% plus score and I am hoping for a more polished performance. This could be my last chance to ride this horse in a competition and I will be going out with a desire to win.’ Carl said even though this could be his last outing with Uthopia he sees it in a positive way: ‘I have taken him right to the top – gone as far as I can with him, and it will be exciting to start the process again with another horse.’
Second place went to last year’s winner Laura Bechtolsheimer and Andretti H (73.34%) and third placed was Michael Eilberg and the striking grey mare Half Moon Delphi on a score of 72.19%.
Photos © Risto Aaltonen
Text British Dressage