Dujardin credits Hester for rapid rise
May 2, 2012 16:50 pm
Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin are the perfect partnership for British dressage as it targets a major Olympics breakthrough this summer.
Dujardin did little to dampen expectations surrounding British medal hopes at Greenwich Park when she returned from Germany's prestigious four-star Hagen show last weekend with a new world record.
And that remarkable feat was achieved just eight months after Hester and Dujardin won four European Championship medals between them - two team gold and Hester's double individual silver.
Dujardin's Olympics horse Valegro is owned by Hester, the world number two she credits with underpinning her rapid ascent in a sport dominated for so long by Dutch and German riders.
Germany has won the last seven Olympic team events, while together with the Dutch, they have shared seven successive Olympic individual titles. Britain has never collected an Olympic dressage medal, but now appears to be on the verge of smashing that German/Dutch domination in London.
Hester and his brilliant stallion Uthopia, Dujardin and fellow Briton Laura Bechtolsheimer with Mistral Hojris are all currently world-ranked top five combinations, with only Dutch star Adelinde Cornelissen above Hester.
Dujardin, 25, linked up with Hester five years ago after her mother asked him if he would give her daughter a dressage lesson. And when Dujardin set new world figures for the Olympic grand prix special - an astonishing 88.022% - last Sunday, Hester was there to witness his prodigy's greatest moment.
"Valegro was spot on from the start. You could tell it was going to be his best ever day," said 44-year-old Hester, who has won five European Championship medals and more than 50 national titles. "To get the sort of mark they did you have to show so much quality, as well as be mistake-free - and they were both.
"I could see straightaway when I first knew Charlotte that there was a huge talent there. There is something very steely and very gritty about her. She doesn't suffer nerves - she looks forward to competing in championships - and we feed off each other. Mind you, she has always been lippy!"
Dujardin added: "It meant everything to have Carl there to help me in Hagen. I wouldn't be where I am without him. The key, though, is you have to stand up to him, and I am the only one that does. I don't bow at his feet, as much as he would me like me to!"
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