Category Archives: Olympia

Six Times Champion Boyd Exell Triumphs Again at Olympia

Saturday’s sell-out crowd watched admirably as The FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell took to the arena with Boyd Exell demonstrating an unbeatable performance and taking home the title.

Lorenzo De Luca, the Italian rider who is proving such a hit, won the Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes and is now second in the H&M Leading Rider of Show rankings behind Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson ahead of H&M Sunday.

Jessica Mendoza was masterful when taking the under-23 title; Laura Renwick notched up Britain’s first senior win and the talented young Irishman Bertram Allen triumphed in the Christmas Masters.

The world’s leading driver Boyd Exell (AUS) showed the enthusiastic full house at Olympia just why he deserves that title. The six times World Cup™ Driving Champion and four times individual gold medallist drove two peerless rounds in the final leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving to take the win.

Finishing in third place last night in the qualifying round, behind Hungary’s Jozsef Dobrovitz snr and Koos de Ronde (NED), meant Exell took on the course before them. Up until then only one of the four previous drivers – Georg von Stein from Germany – had posted a clear round. Exell showed his intent by driving clear and clipped ten seconds off von Stein’s time. Following him, Dobrovitz and de Ronde both drove clear but Exell took the lead by some three seconds.

The top three competed again over a shortened course, starting from a zero score. Dobrovitz lost time at obstacle one attempting a tight turn and then had a knockdown at obstacle two. De Ronde pulled out all the stops and secured a very fast time but in doing so picked up five penalties.

Exell only had to drive clear but that was no barrier to him putting his foot flat to the floor. He galloped home clear two seconds faster than de Ronde to notch up his third win in FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifiers this season, keeping him in the top of the rankings.

All three top drivers paid tribute to the highly-charged atmosphere at Olympia where the crowd is so enthusiastically engaged with the competition.

“I feel on home ground here,” remarked Exell who moved from the UK to Holland two years ago.

“That does increase the pressure for me but equally we are all lifted by the crowd. The Show is the one we want to be at.” A sentiment endorsed by Dobrovitz competing here for the second year running.

Daniel Naprous (GBR) remarked, “Olympia gives British drivers the most wonderful platform to compete against the best in the world. They are so welcoming to us and we are getting better as a result. It’s a thank-you to Olympia.”

Italian rider Lorenzo De Luca brought the crowd to their feet with a stunning performance in the jump-off of the Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes.

The Olympia crowd has taken the young Italian to their hearts this week and he did not disappoint, pulling off an audacious round on the white-faced chestnut by Heartbreaker, Halifax van het Kluizebos, to clinch victory from his Stephex Stables team mate Daniel Deusser on Hidalgo VG.

The competition involved a timed first round from which 14 went through to the jump-off. Ben Maher put up a spirited challenge to finish third and best British on the eight-year-old Don Vito.

Lorenzo, a member of the Italian Air Force, is trained by Dutchman Henk Nooren and is based in Brussels with the Stephex Stables. This is his first appearance at Olympia. He will ride Limestone Grey in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier presented by H&M and Halifax in the Grand Prix.

“Halifax is very fast and careful and he wants to do his best,” said Lorenzo, 29, who is 17th in the Longines FEI World Rankings. “This is a super show. Everyone told me it was great, but now I know. It’s a proper horse show.”

The Italian star is now second in the H&M Leading Rider of the Show rankings, 18 points behind the runaway leader, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson, ahead of H&M Sunday.

Laura Renwick secured Britain’s first outright show jumping win of the week in The Shelly Ashman International Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Father Christmas Stakes. This was an accumulator competition in which a clear jump over a fence accrues points, with a final optional joker fence offering a tempting double, its easier counterpart.

Remarkably, Laura has only ridden her winning partner, Con Chilli, for just two months. “She’s usually ridden by Yazmin Pinchen, but I have the ride on her as Yazmin is pregnant,” Laura explained. “The other two horses I have here are also Yazmin’s, but this will only be my second show with those. They are all going really well here and I am very fortunate to have them.”

Laura was also in the final shake up of The Christmas Masters, in which the top seven leading riders of the show so far were eligible to compete.

In this class, riders nominate a fence to go up before they jump. If they jump it clear, the prize pot increases by £500; if not, the prize fund stays the same and the fence is dropped back to its previous height. After each round, all those still clear jump again until the fifth and final round, in which the jump-off is against the clock.

Laura (Dominant H), Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Irishman Bertram Allen (High Valley) remained after four rounds, and went head-to-head for the winner-takes-all purse of £14,000.

Unfortunately, first-drawn Laura finished on four faults, but Bertram posted a fast clear, with a time that Malin could not match.

“It wasn’t an easy class to win. Often, if you get to the fifth round, you’ve won,” said Bertram. “It was difficult to know how fast to go as I was mid-drawn, so I didn’t want to risk going too fast and having a fence down.”

However, the young Irishman rode his round to perfection to take the spoils.

Team GBR Olympic reserve, Jessica Mendoza, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in show jumping, but until now there was one gap in her CV: The Dodson & Horrell and The World Class Programme U23 British Championships at Olympia, the London International Horse Show.

She put that right with a masterful victory on Wan Architect, despite 15-year-old Jack Whitaker, the European Pony Champion, running her close to the wire with a mature performance on the grey stallion Grade A Valentin R, one of three horses he qualified for Olympia.

Yazmin Davis finished third on Zilverster ll, having incurred a time penalty in the jump-off.

Jessica, Jack and Yazmin all jumped clear in the first round and were joined in the jump-off by the fastest of the four-faulters, who knew they had nothing to lose by going for speed and pressurising the top three.

Graham Gillespie set a blistering target with a clear round in 35.86 seconds on Celine, which was good enough to take fourth place, and Millie Allen, a star of the Pony and Junior circuits, was fifth on the stallion Balou Star.

Despite all her experience, Jessica, 21, commented that she felt Kelvin Bywater’s track was “stiff enough” and said: “I watched everyone’s rounds very carefully. Jack did a very smooth round which was hard to gauge so I knew I had to go for it. I’ve been second and third in this class so winning it at last really means a lot.”

Jessica, who has been competing Wan Architect in other classes at Olympia, was 4.54 seconds faster than Jack but his calm, classical approach was impressive and father Michael, who was in the audience for once, was visibly as proud as punch.

“I’m very, very pleased,” Jack said afterwards, “though I should have gone quicker! This is a prestigious class and I’ve been trying to get here for ages.”

Other highlights include Lee Windeatt and Ag Ch Darleyfalls Pipistrelle taking the victory in The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk
0203 176 0355
www.olympiahorseshow.com

Boyd’s Team ‘On Song’ at London Olympia

Boyd Exell (FEI/Trevor Meeks)

London Olympia (GBR), 17 December 2016 – Boyd Exell (AUS) has won the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving at London Olympia after an exciting battle with Koos de Ronde (NED) and József Dobrovitz (HUN). Boyd took the top honours, but since he competed with a wild card, the 10 World Cup points went to De Ronde.

Boyd’s team was ‘on song’ in the electric atmosphere of the London International Horse Show at Olympia on Saturday evening. ”I qualified for the winning round in which I was last to go. I knew Dobrovitz and De Ronde had made mistakes, so my plan was to drive smooth. Half way through the course my back stepper told me I was six seconds up, so in the last phase of the course I did not take any risks.” Boyd finished two seconds faster than Koos de Ronde, thanks to a very clever turn in the first marathon obstacle. It is the third time that Boyd has won the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Olympia, he also won the editions in 2012 and 2014.

Koos de Ronde’s team went even better than in the first competition, which he had won. Being the last man to go in the first round, Koos knew his opponents had driven clear rounds so he had to be fast and clear. Half way through the course he realized his time was good and decided not to take any risks, which resulted in the second place. The three drivers started from scratch again and Koos went for it in the second round, in which Dutch level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs had taken two gates out: “I am very pleased with my team of horses; they went very well. I really went for it, but I had an unfortunate knock down in the second obstacle, so the rest of the course I drove fast but without risk,” said Koos. The 2016 bronze medallist at the World Championships has now picked up 10 World Cup points, which puts him in second position in the provisional standings after his win in Budapest two weeks ago.

József Dobrovitz fully concentrated on finishing in the top three in the first round, and he succeeded. Dobrovitz truly enjoys competing at Olympia and he brought two new horses to London, which only competed in his team twice before: “My right wheeler horse is only young and after three days of competition, he was very tired, but I am very pleased with my horses.” Dobrovitz missed a turn in the second round and had one knock down. Both Dobrovitz and his son József Jr. have now finished their four events – Dobrovitz is in second place in the standings and junior in fourth place. It will depend on the results of the other drivers in the next competitions if they will stay in the top 6 to qualify for the Final in Göteborg at the end of February.

Georg von Stein (GER) drove a smooth and clear round, but was not fast enough to qualify for the winning round and finished in fourth place, ahead of Dobrovitz Jr., who tried a shortcut from obstacle 7 to 8, which cost him a knock down. Second wild card driver Daniel Naprous (GBR) dropped a loop in the first marathon obstacle, turned up his speed but picked up two balls and finished in sixth place. Theo Timmerman (NED) lost precious seconds when he missed a gate in the first marathon obstacle and finished in seventh place.

For the complete results, click here.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Mechelen will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Friday, 30 December at 21.15 hrs. CET (local time in Belgium, GMT+1 hour).

For information on Mechelen, go to www.jumping-mechelen.com or contact Press Officer Edith de Reys, edith.dereys@skynet.be, +32 475 659 281.

For more information on FEI World Cup™ Driving, please check the FEI website.

By Cindy Timmer

FEI Media Contact:
Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

At London Olympia:
Jo Peck
Press Officer
JoPeck@hpower.co.uk
+44 1753 847 900

Pendleton Makes Her Show Jumping Debut at Olympia

Speed was the aim of the game on Friday at Olympia, the London International Horse Show. Swapping the racecourse for the show jumping arena, the jockeys in the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund had their feet flat to the boards in the battle of the flat versus National Hunt jockeys, with Frankie Dettori’s flat team taking the spoils.

Earlier in the day, The FEI World Cup™ Driving presented by Dodson & Horrell thrilled the crowd with their break-neck turns and the show jumpers also kept up the pace in each of the three international classes.

It was an action packed day, which also saw the Equestrian Team GBR Olympic medal winners parade in front of a delighted audience. The parade included both BBC Sports Personality of the Year contenders Nick Skelton OBE and Sophie Christiansen OBE, ahead of their big night on Sunday.

A typically flamboyant display of riding from Frankie Dettori clinched victory for his team of flat jockeys in the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

The quintet of flat jockeys (Frankie, Bridget Andrews, Adam Kirby, Jim Crowley and Jamie Spencer) had a point to prove as, two years ago, they were trounced by the National Hunt jockeys at Olympia.

This time though, under stern instruction from 2012 Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash, they flew around the track, performing neat handovers of the baton, and managed to set an unbeatable target.

The jump jockeys, under reigning Olympic champion Nick Skelton’s guidance, suffered a few shaky moments and even a last-ditch headlong gallop from Nick’s son Harry Skelton failed to save the day.

“My lads were fantastic,” said winning trainer Scott Brash afterwards. “They were really tight in their turns. Frankie in particular did a great round.”

“There’s a lot of camaraderie between both codes of racing but this is the icing on the cake,” confirmed Frankie, “and we’ll be dining out on it for a long time! Scott told us to keep it tight, keep it smooth and not cut any corners, and it worked. And it’s all for a good cause. The Injured Jockeys Fund is really important for our sport.”

Champion National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson, Tom Scudamore and Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton, with Sam and Harry, put up a spirited challenge.

For Victoria Pendleton, who was first to go for the jump jockeys, this was the latest sporting challenge in a memorable year that saw her finish a brilliant fifth in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham in March only 12 months after she first sat on a horse.

“That was pretty good!” she said breathlessly afterwards. “I can only go as fast as I can – I’ve never show jumped before. It was fantastic to have the chance to compete at Olympia, but when I was asked, I did say that I couldn’t guarantee I would help the team.”

Steve Guerdat was always going to be dangerous when drawn last to go in the Longines Christmas Cracker at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and so it proved.

Last to go in a five-horse jump-off, the 2012 Olympic champion, a perennial visitor to Olympia, shaved 1.37 seconds off the time achieved by Ireland’s Anthony Condon and Balzac, who took second place.

It was an international line-up with Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro third on U Watch, Malin Baryard-Johnsson fourth for Sweden on H&M Cue Channa, and Bertram Allen fifth for Ireland on the eight-year-old Izzy by Picobello

Steve was aboard his dual FEI World Cup™ finalist Corbinian. “I was quite lucky to be last in the class and therefore last in the jump-off, and so I knew what I had to do,” he said. “I was confident that if I rode well, he would be on my side.”

The Swiss rider will compete Corbinian, a 10-year-old by Cornet Obolensky, in Monday’s Grand Prix class; he rides Bianca in Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Leg presented by H&M.

Earlier in the day, Olympia regular Laura Kraut got the better of Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca in the Snowman Stakes, snatching the lead with an extraordinarily fast start to the jump-off. “I can’t believe I finally beat him,” said the delighted American rider. “He’s just so fast.”

Lorenzo had romped into the lead on Halifax van het Kluizebos, his winning partner from the previous day’s Longines World Rankings class, the Christmas Pudding Stakes, with just two left to go. But the last rider in the ring, Laura set out to win with the nine-year-old Cavalia and gained time back straight away between the first two fences.

Continuing to claim back time around the track, she came home cleanly with over a second in hand. “I only watched the others go on the screen in the collecting ring,” said Laura. “When I saw Lorenzo go, I decided then it had to be all-or-nothing to win.”

From final draw in the opening class of the day, The Snowflake Stakes, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny denied long-time leader Malin Baryard-Johnsson a win. Riding Fixdesign Funke van’t Heike, the Olympia first-timer pinched half a second back from the Swedish rider’s posted time on H&M Second Chance.

“Malin has a very nice horse, but my horse is a little bit more experienced, which enabled me to push and beat the time,” said Darragh, who splits his time between the USA and Europe.  “I have usually already left to go to America for the winter,” said Darragh. “But my owners, sponsors and National Federation very kindly agreed to let me to come here.

“It’s a show I have always wanted to complete at and it is just amazing. It certainly is the best indoor show.”

The warm-up round of the FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell produced a tight and tense competition that had its share of drama. In the final result, it was last to go, Koos de Ronde, from the Netherlands who went over the line first to claim victory by less than 0.3 seconds.

First to go, GB’s representative and the least experienced driver in this event, Daniel Naprous, head of the riding and driving stunt team, The Devil’s Horsemen, posted a competitive round with just one five-penalty knockdown. Next to go, driving on a wild card, was Australia’s Boyd Exell – six-time FEI World Cup™ Driving Champion – who drove with his usual skill and dash. However, taking a short line through the second obstacle to get to the finish, he clipped a couple of elements to pick up ten penalties. So fast was his round that he remained in contention.

Hungarian driver, Jozsef Dobrovitz Snr, who was second to Exell in last night’s Extreme Driving competition, drove surely and fast again to take the lead. His son, Jozsef Dobrovitz Jnr, followed by Theo Timmerman from The Netherlands and Germany’s Georg von Stein, all collected knockdown penalties that dropped them down the order.

Knowing that if he drove clear he would win, de Ronde still put up a fast pace through both obstacles and the elements between them. It proved a good policy – a late five-point penalty still allowed him to cross the line by just 0.22 penalties ahead of Dobrovitz Snr. Exell was third.

“It was a tense moment going into the arena,” acknowledged de Ronde, World Cup Champion in 2013. “I took a slightly longer route through the obstacles to try to go clear but I kept up the pace. It paid off – just!”

The placings determine the order of competition for the Final. All drivers will start from a zero score, however, making for a competition that will again thrill the packed crowd at Olympia.

Other highlights included Charlotte Harding claiming the Kennel Club Small Dog Agility Final title, with his four-legged partner AG CH Daimonic Expelliarmus. The Olympia Senior Showing Series Championships, sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers, was a highlight for Kerrilee Wilson Smith and her family whose delightful grey cob Silver Maddigan won the ridden section; the former ridden pony Hampton Scandal, handled by Liam Keetley, won the in-hand classification.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk
0203 176 0355
www.olympiahorseshow.com

Christmas Comes Early for Holly in the Cayenne Puissance

Olympia, the London International Horse Show had crowds sat on the edge of their seats, as the Cayenne Puissance took flight. Holly Smith (GBR) and Christopher Megahey (IRL) both went clear in the 5th round to take home the title in front of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Olympic Gold Medallist Nick Skelton, was also in attendance as he took part in a Q&A session with some lucky fans.

Holly Smith, who had never ridden in a puissance competition until this year, and the teenager from Ireland, Christopher Megahey, 18, a first-timer at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, shared the spoils in a thrilling finale to the Cayenne Puissance.

With The Duchess of Cornwall, who was paying her annual visit to the show, looking on, the pair both cleared 7ft 1in in the fifth and final round.

Holly (nee Gillott), riding the huge bay Irish sport horse Quality Old Joker, showed all her experience from the hunting field, saw the perfect stride and cleared the massive wall in superb style.

But then the young Irishman matched her for nerve and pinged over on another Irish-bred horse, his brother’s former eventer Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier, in a result that will thrill fans of horses from the Emerald Isle.

Norwegian rider Rebekka Lie Andersen finished third, having retired in the third round on Want To Do, and Britain’s Laura Renwick, who withdrew from the third round, was fourth on Top Dollar Vl.

“It’s fantastic,” said Holly, 27. “All my friends are here to watch. I tried to treat it as a normal show, but it’s just got such an amazing atmosphere. The first three rounds didn’t actually go that well, but then I managed to see a forward stride in the fourth and he jumped brilliantly.”

Christopher was equally thrilled. “I loved it – it didn’t faze me at all. It’s just brilliant being here, being around top riders like Marcus Ehning and Scott Brash.”

Earlier on in the day the Stephex Stables enjoyed a fantastic start to the show, with its riders claiming the first two international Show Jumping classes.

The initial victory came from Germany’s Daniel Deusser, who took the Santa Stakes with nine-year-old stallion Hidalgo VG.

“It’s great to start with a win as it gives you confidence for the rest of show,” said Daniel, who beat 11 rivals in the jump off and relegated Britain’s Ben Maher (Don Vito) to second.

Italian rider Lorenzo De Luca took the Christmas Pudding Stakes, a speed class, riding Halifax van het Kluizebos, one of the Belgium operation’s nine-year-old stallions.

“He’s a very good horse now, having continued to improve and become more competitive in bigger classes,” said Lorenzo, who is an Olympia first-timer. “Getting the invitation to compete here was a dream come true,” he said. “To win on the first day is just fantastic.”

Preceding the first round of the FEI World Cup™ competition, the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving at Olympia saw all seven competitors representing five countries. But it was the world’s leading driver, current reigning World Champion both indoors and out, Boyd Exell (AUS), who snatched victory.

Over a challenging course set by course designer, Johan Jacobs from the Netherlands, Exell was the last to go in the first round and was fastest at the midway point. However, the brakes locked on his carriage as he drove over the bridge in the centre of the arena, making for a difficult turn into the first gate of the second obstacle. A resulting knockdown gave him penalties and put him into third place behind Koos de Ronde from The Netherlands and Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary. Dobrovitz, whose son is also competing in the competition, was the only driver to post a clear round at this stage, giving him the top slot.

In the second round, in which the top three placed drivers compete again for first to third place, Exell set the bar high with an excellent round despite one knockdown. Even with 5 penalties added the other two were unable to better his score and he claimed the win again, repeating last year’s success in this competition.

“I’ll be making a few changes in my team for the World Cup competition tomorrow,” Exell remarked. “But today’s competition was outstanding. This Show produces an amazing atmosphere and really allows us to showcase our sport. To compete to such an enthusiastic crowd and a full house spurs us all on.”

Course designer Jacobs commented, “I expect all the drivers to make fewer mistakes tomorrow – there are always difficulties in the first competition. They will be competing over a different course although the obstacles are in the same place – I don’t plan to make it any trickier than today though!”

Along with the evening’s Show Jumping and the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving, a special presentation took place as Tim Wilks was awarded the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy, presented to young riders demonstrating potential for future success in the forthcoming season.

The Kennel Club ABC Dog Agility Final thrilled the crowd, but Jo Gleed and her dog Bonvivant With Extra Zoom were too quick for fellow four-legged competitors to clinch the victory.

Olympic champion Nick Skelton spent the day being feted by journalists and the crowd, who will no doubt be voting in their thousands for him on Sunday night in BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Speaking of his Olympic Gold Medal, Nick said, “I never thought it would happen – I’d tried and failed so many times, but I think it means more to me winning a gold medal at my age than it would have done if I was younger.”

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk
0203 176 0355
www.olympiahorseshow.com

Carl Hester Does the Double as Valegro Retires in Style

The Olympia Grand Hall saw a sell-out crowd, as many of the world’s greatest Dressage riders took to the arena. The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music wowed the packed crowd, with Carl Hester dominating for the second night running.

The talking point of the Show was the retirement of one of Dressage’s greatest horses, Valegro, with spectators treated to a special performance ahead of an emotional retirement ceremony.

The second day at Olympia, The London International Horse Show could not have ended any more perfectly than with British Dressage’s own Superman, Carl Hester, winning the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound.

The win with Nip Tuck, Hester’s second consecutive Olympia FEI World Cup™ qualifying win with his 18 hand high 2016 Olympic team silver partner, came during an emotionally charged evening performance that saw the retirement of Nip Tuck’s stable and Olympic team mate Valegro. The double Olympic gold medallist is part-owned by Hester and ridden by his pupil and former protégé Charlotte Dujardin.

Hester and Nip Tuck’s freestyle (84.669) delighted the capacity crowd many of who have come back to Olympia every year since the prestigious FEI World Cup™ qualifier was initiated here in 2003.

“That was the biggest atmosphere at Olympia that I have ever experienced,” said Hester, who is now aiming for the FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha in April.  “Even yesterday in the Grand Prix it was super-charged and not just because of the numbers. Barney was a little on edge but I was really pleased that even out there, with so many people, he kept with me.”

Hester was also a major part of the evening’s retirement ceremony for Valegro.

“It has been such a joyous occasion,” said Hester. “I know everyone thought it would be sad, but how could anyone be sad to see Valegro go out so fit and well and happy – it’s been a happy-sad day.”

Hester and Nip Tuck not only successfully defended their Olympia title, but comfortably held off the potential challenge from Dutch Olympic riders Hans Peter Minderhoud with Glock’s Flirt (81.880) and Edward Gal with Glock’s Voice (80.467). The two Dutch riders, as last night in the Grand Prix, took second and third place. Hans Peter Minderhoud, the current holder of the FEI World Cup™ title took the runner up position with Glock’s Flirt with who he won the title last year – his first FEI World Cup™ accolade.

“I expected a great class with a big atmosphere so I knew we would have to produce our very best and then I heard Carl’s score,” said Minderhoud.

“I just had to keep to the plan and do the best we could and not over-ride him. He was really with me and really trying so I am super happy, but perhaps it’s time to make my freestyle more difficult.”

Fellow Dutchman Edward Gal and the stallion Glock’s Flirt were third, while Irish rider Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K (78.269) performed a powerful and expressive routine to a seasonal foot-tapping compilation to be fourth. British rider Hayley Watson-Greaves achieved a personal best with Rubins Nite for fifth place.

While Hester has yet to win a FEI World Cup™ Final, he has trained both Valegro and his rider Charlotte who have won the FEI World Cup™ series on two occasions (2014 & ’15). The pair is the current holders of the record FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix (87.129% in Lyon, 2014) and Grand Prix Freestyle score (94.16 in Las Vegas, 2016).

The 14-year-old equine superhero is part-owned by Hester, who has trained him and his rider Charlotte Dujardin through the fairy-tale style story that runs from four-year-old young horse champion to achieving double Olympic glory this year at Rio.

The 2017 FEI World Cup™ Final (March 29 – April 2) takes place in Omaha, Nebraska.

Three-time Olympic Champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro entered the Olympia Grand Hall for a final time, performing their London 2012 Gold medal winning freestyle test to a sell-out crowd in a touching retirement ceremony. In 2014 the pair set the Freestyle Dressage world record at Olympia, and currently holds the highest Olympic score in the Freestyle. Beyond their phenomenal medal haul, the pair has achieved a great amount for the sport itself, as acknowledged by British Dressage in a special award ceremony during last night’s performance.

Valegro and Charlotte were joined in the arena by mentor and part-owner, Carl Hester, as well as groom Alan Davies, in what was an emotional last dance. The packed-out stands gave the duo a well-deserved standing ovation as they paraded out of the arena.

Speaking after the ceremony, Charlotte Dujardin said, “There have been so many happy memories; he’s won every gold medal there is, including three Olympic golds and two FEI World Cup™ titles. He’s a once in a lifetime horse and I’ll miss competing with him enormously.”

The solitary foot-perfect performance secured the Services Jumping Championship win at Olympia, The London International Horse Show for the Household Cavalry’s Major Chambers, an accolade he has chased for six years with the 12-year-old gelding Hightide.

“It’s the ultimate [equestrian] title to win when for the military,” said Major Chambers, a Riding Master for the Lifeguards. “We have been second two times previously, and I had actually qualified two horses at the Royal Tournament for this final. I decided to bring Hightide as I trust him in the atmosphere here. The other horse, Freeway, has never been here before, so it made sense.”

Major Chambers bought Hightide at Gorsebridge sales eight years ago for the Defence Animal Riding Centre as a school horse. However, the two quickly developed a strong bond. “I decided to try him out one day and fell in love,” said Major Chambers, who was also part of the winning Services Team Jumping squad with Hightide at this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk
0203 176 0355
www.olympiahorseshow.com

Hester Wins and Valegro Bows Out on a Night to Remember at Olympia

Carl Hester with Nip Tuck. (Jon Stroud Media/FEI)

Olympia, London (GBR), 14 December 2016 – On an electrifying night at the London International Horse Show, Carl Hester won the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League with Nip Tuck. This was a back-to-back double on home ground for the 49-year-old British star and his 12-year-old gelding, but the man who has been largely responsible for placing British dressage firmly on centre stage in recent years had to battle for the limelight, as his victory was quickly followed by an emotional farewell performance by his stable-star, Valegro.

The Grand Hall at Olympia was packed to capacity as reigning FEI World Cup™ champions, Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Flirt, filled runner-up spot ahead of Dutch compatriot and 2010 champion Edward Gal in third with Glock’s Voice. A fourth-place finish for Judy Reynolds has promoted the 35-year-old Irish phenomenon to the top of the Western European League going into the next leg of the series in Amsterdam (NED) in February.

Reynolds and Vancouver K led the way after the judging break with a score of 78.269, but Hester moved the target on to 84.669 with another of his text-book rides. “This was the biggest atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at Olympia. Barney (Nip Tuck) was a little on edge, but I’m really pleased that in that atmosphere he kept with me!” he said after posting what would prove to be the winning score.

Hester, whose own career is filled with major highlights, is the man who created the fairytale partnership between Charlotte Dujardin and the amazing gelding Valegro, who together have become icons in the sport over the last five years. Breaking world records was all in a day’s work for this sensational duo, but just a few short months after adding to their haul of Olympic gold in Rio, the 14-year-old horse was officially retired from the sport after presenting one last stunning performance of their winning London 2012 Olympic Games Freestyle test.

Hester, who trained and mentored the pair, said, “It has been a such a joyous occasion – I know everyone wanted it to be sad but how could anyone be sad to see Valegro go out so fit and well and happy – it’s been a happy sad day!”

Dujardin described Valegro as “just the perfect horse, with the biggest heart in the world; he always gave me his very best!” while fellow-Olympian, Richard Davison, put it all in perspective when he said that it was “the alchemy” between Hester, Dujardin and this very special horse that has been key to this extraordinary success story.

Detailed result here

Quotes:

Carl Hester GBR (1st): “My plan is to get to Omaha (for the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017 Final). I started at Lyon and will next head to Amsterdam and keep room in the diary for another one if needs be. I last competed in a World Cup Final in 2005 with Escapado.”

Hans Peter Minderhoud NED (2nd): “I expected a great class with a big atmosphere so I knew we would have to produce our best, and then I heard Carl’s score so decided to keep to the plan and just try to do everything the best we can and not over-ride him. I am super happy, but perhaps it’s time to make my Freestyle more difficult.”

Edward Gal NED (3rd): “My horse was a little unsettled at the beginning as being last to go he got left on his own in the warm up arena – which, because he is a stallion, distracted him. But otherwise he felt good and he made not many mistakes – it was a good start for our World Cup season. I love to come to London the atmosphere in the Hall is very special, and especially at Christmas time!”

Full standings here

Don’t miss a hoofbeat! Watch it all LIVE on www.feitv.org.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL #RidetoOmaha #FEIWorldCupFinals #TwoHearts

Rider biographies: view online and download from www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Olympia:

Jo Peck
Press Officer
JoPeck@hpower.co.uk
+44 1753 847 900

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Dressage Stars Take Centre Stage on Opening Night of Olympia

The World’s best Dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Carl Hester was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound aboard his Rio Team silver medal winning horse Nip Tuck.

In addition to the top-class competition, Britain’s favourite horse, Valegro, graced the arena along with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, ahead of his retirement, and Emile Faurie also gave a foot perfect masterclass.

Spanish horse whisperer, Santi Serra, opened the show with his unique display featuring dogs and horses, paving the way for a spectacular performance from the Pride of Portugal Lusitano horses and riders.

Olympia, The London International Horse Show kicked off in great style with the first night’s full house witnessing British Olympic rider Carl Hester win the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix (supported by Horse & Hound).

The British favourite produced a controlled and confident test from the giant Nip Tuck who, despite being 12 years old, is still a notoriously spooky horse. The pair produced particularly impressive piaffe and passage and claimed a unanimous win from the five judges.

“I am very happy with him tonight,” said the Gloucestershire rider. “This time last year it took another 24 hours to get to this point.”

“We can improve on the score and yes I need to be more attacking in the ride to gain the higher marks but tonight was a stepping stone to that and, considering how spooky he can be, he is becoming a very reliable horse.”

Dutch Olympic team riders Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal, regular visitors to the London Show, were second and third.

Hans Peter and Glock’s Flirt, the reigning World Cup champions stand second. It was just the second show for the pair since their World Cup win in Gothenburg in April.

“I am very satisfied with Flirt, especially as he had all summer off and only came back at Maastricht where he was second. Already he feels improved and hopefully he will be better again tomorrow,” said Hans Peter who has been coming to the London show for the last ten years.

“We always try to do this show and now feel very much at home here in London,” said Hans Peter. “It has a great atmosphere and is good way to end the year.”

It was also only the second outing for the stallion Glock’s Voice since he competed with Edward Gal at the Olympic Games in Rio.

He said; “Yes, he was a little overwhelmed by the atmosphere and a little bit too much of a stallion in the warm-up – which is quite small and was busy with other horses – so he was a bit difficult and falling into the corners and a little against my hand at times, but we can most certainly can do better and tomorrow we start again.”

The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle starts Wednesday night at 7.30pm after which the audience will have their tissues at the ready for the retirement ceremony of the British team Olympic gold medallist horse Valegro.

Valegro made his first UK public appearance since winning his third Olympic gold medal in Rio, much to the delight of the packed crowd. Fans were treated to a Q&A session with Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, questions for which were submitted in advance by members of the audience. Charlotte and Valegro also demonstrated a couple of the moves that gave them such phenomenal success in the competition arena.

The session also included an awards ceremony, with the following awards presented:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award to Valegro’s groom Alan Davies, presented by Chris Hewlett (Chairman of the British Grooms Association)
  • BHS Fellowship Award to Carl Hester, presented by Lynn Petersen, Tessa Martin-Bird and Julia David from The British Horse Society
  • British Dressage Award to Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin, presented by Jennie Loriston-Clarke

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk
0203 176 0355
www.olympiahorseshow.com

Top Events This Winter Beginning with the London International Horse Show at Olympia

The anticipation for this year’s winter horse show competition and horse racing is tremendous with some of the top riders in Show Jumping and Dressage scheduled to compete this month. December begins with the annual international horse show at Olympia. The Shetland Pony Grand National holds all the excitement of the horse race on a miniature scale! Shetland Ponies and their riders race around the arena at a fast and furious pace – it really is one of the highlights of Olympia. Horse racing and betting enthusiasts can check scheduling and horse racing odds at 888sport Horse racing betting.

The most competitive Show Jumping competition since the Olympics will be taking place in Olympia this week with gold medallists from England, France and Germany competing in what will be one of the most talented and exciting international shows in recent memory. The Frankfort Festhalle will also be taking place this month from December 15-18. Of the top 30 riders, 17 will be competing in Mechelen from December 26-30.

World’s Best Riders Set to Compete at Olympia, The London International Horse Show

Olympia, The London International Horse Show, will host 10 Olympic gold medallists who will be providing top class sporting action across the seven days of competition.

From the world of Show Jumping, five of the top 10 riders from across the globe, including former World No.1s, Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, will be under one roof to compete at the UK’s premier indoor horse show. Carl Hester, gold medallist from London 2012 and silver medallist in Rio 2016, will be heading up Team GB’s dressage entries. The sporting excitement does not end there, with the three-time World Champion, Boyd Exell, returning to wow the crowds with his Carriage Driving skills.

SHOWJUMPING

Olympia’s Show Jumping competition will have a dazzling array of first-class riders set to take centre stage during a week of unmissable competition.

Britain’s most renowned riders are, once again, congregating in London for five days of competition including the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Leg presented by H&M and the Olympia Grand Prix. London 2012 team gold medallists Scott Brash and Ben Maher will be joined by rising Team GB star Jessica Mendoza, as well as William Funnell, Laura Renwick and Olympia newcomer Anna Power. Reigning Olympia Grand Prix Champion, Michael Whitaker, returns alongside his brother John Whitaker. Competing for the younger generation of the Whitaker family, Jack Whitaker lines up for the Dodson & Horrell and the World Class Programme Under 23 Championship.

The Brits will be rivalled by a strong international contingent including the current Olympic team gold medallists from France, Kevin Staut and Penelope Leprevost who are currently ranked World Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, alongside team mate Philippe Rozier. The German challengers will mount a strong opposition with World No. 3 Daniel Deusser, hoping to add another World Cup™ victory to his 2016 tally, appearing alongside his compatriots, Marcus Ehning and Marco Kutscher.

Peder Fredricson, individual silver medallist in Rio, and Steve Guerdat, individual gold medallist in London, will also feature amongst the leading riders. 2008 Beijing team gold medallist Laura Kraut, will be joined by Edwina Tops-Alexander and team silver medallist Malin Baryard-Johnsson to add further strength to the depth of the field.

DRESSAGE

On the evenings of the 13 and 14 December, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage supported by Horse & Hound comes the Olympia Exhibition Hall with eight Rio Olympians taking part.

Setting the standard will be Great Britain’s Carl Hester, aboard his Olympic medal winning partner Nip Tuck, who will be hoping to repeat his 2015 winning performance in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound. Competing against him will be fellow London 2012 Olympic team gold medallist, Laura Tomlinson, who will be attending Olympia as a final competition before she goes on maternity leave, and leading Dutch riders, reigning World Cup™ Champion, Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal.

Representing Ireland will be Judy Reynolds, who currently holds the highest Grand Prix score by any Irish rider in international competition. Olympia will be seeing a new face as Japan’s Akane Kuroki will be attending for the first time, after making her international debut at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

CARRIAGE DRIVING

Olympia is set to provide an exhilarating display of skill, as the World’s best carriage drivers storm the arena.

Current World Champion Boyd Exell will be returning to the Olympia Grand Hall, armed with a team of horses to battle for the number one spot. Great Britain’s Dan Naprous will be contending against Boyd, pulling out all the stops in an endeavour to achieve first place position.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford, gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Valegro Retirement amongst the Live Broadcast Highlights of Olympia Horse Show

On 13-19 December, Olympia, The London International Horse Show, is back in its iconic venue and set to grip spectators from day one.

For those who are not able to attend the Show, coverage from the event will be available via the BBC, FEI TV and through streaming and video on demand, thereby ensuring you don’t have to miss a moment.

This year’s event is particularly special, with double Olympic Gold medallist, dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin appearing with her outstanding horse, Valegro, before he retires from competition. Furthermore, double Olympic gold medal winning Show Jumping duo, Nick Skelton and Big Star, will be competing; allowing home fans to have a rare first-hand display of their magical partnership.

The competition will be of the highest international standard, with three FEI World Cup™ competitions in Driving, Dressage and Show Jumping as well as other outstanding international jumping classes including The Cayenne Puissance and The Olympia Grand Prix.

Each performance includes international displays from the Portuguese Lusitanos and Santi Serra who will demonstrate their breath-taking horsemanship as well as old favourites, the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and the Kennel Club Dog Agility.

To view the show online and on TV this year, below is our day by day listing of coverage*:

Tuesday 13 December:

The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix
19:30-22:35 – LIVE on FEI TV

Wednesday 14 December:

The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music and The Retirement of Olympic Gold Medal Winner, Valegro
19:30-22:35 – LIVE on BBC RED BUTTON, BBC ONLINE & connected TV and FEI TV

Thursday 15 December:

The Santa Stakes
12:00-12:30 – LIVE STREAM

The Christmas Pudding Stakes
18:45-19:50 – LIVE STREAM

The Cayenne Puissance
21:00-22:15 – LIVE on the BBC RED BUTTON, BBC ONLINE & connected TV

Friday 16 December:

The FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg
12:45-13:25 – LIVE on FEI TV

The Snowman Stakes
15:00-16:25 – LIVE STREAM

The Entire Evening Performance
18:45-22:25 – LIVE on BBC RED BUTTON, BBC ONLINE & connected TV including;
Markel Champions Challenge
The Longines Christmas Cracker

Saturday 17 December:

The Christmas Masters
15:15-16:15 – LIVE STREAM

The FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg
18:30-19:15 – LIVE on FEI TV

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes
20:45-22:15 – LIVE STREAM

Sunday 18 December:

The H&M Pony Club Mini-Major
12:30-12:50 – LIVE STREAM

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Leg – Presented by H&M
13:45-16:30 –  LIVE BBC TWO HD, ONLINE & connected TV
14:35-16:30 –  LIVE on FEI TV

The H&M Ivy Stakes
21:00-22:25 – LIVE STREAM

Monday 19 December:

The Six Bar
12:30-13:30 – LIVE STREAM

The Entire Evening Performance
18:45-22:25 – LIVE on the BBC RED BUTTON, BBC ONLINE & connected TV including:
The Mince Pie Stakes
The Olympia Grand Prix

Wednesday 21 December:

Highlights
12:00-13:00 – BBC TWO HD, ONLINE & connected TV

* All programmes subject to change 

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford, gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355