Category Archives: Olympia

Emanuele Guadiano Does an Italian Job on the Longines FEI World Cup Leg

Photo credit Kit Houghton/Hpower.

Dashing Italian rider Emanuele Gaudiano snatched victory in the Longines FEI World Cup™ leg presented by H&M at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, with an audacious display of speed jumping on his heroic chestnut gelding, Admara.

At one stage in the marathon 17-horse jump-off it looked as if the British were keeping their World Cup™ leg to themselves with Ben Maher on the feisty chestnut mare Diva ll, world number one Scott Brash (Hello M’lady) and Guy Williams (Titus) heading the leaderboard.

But the Italian police officer blew them out of the water with his ambitious round, shaving 0.95 secs off Ben’s time. The remaining riders – Germany’s Marco Kutscher and Hans-Dieter Dreher, Britain’s Laura Renwick, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat and Ireland’s Bertram Allen – couldn’t get close and it all came down to the last rider, Britain’s Michael Whitaker on Viking.

The packed house roared Michael down to the final fence, but he had struggled to get a good stride to either the third or fourth fences and, despite his desperate efforts, he finished just 0.13 secs slower than Ben to slot into third place.

‘I don’t think the course was too easy,’ said Michael, commenting on the large number through to the jump-off. ‘In fact, it was quite difficult. It’s just that everyone had really prepared their horses well and had been saving them for this class plus the standard is now very high.’

Portuguese course-designer, Bernardo Costa Cabral, admitted that the course was ‘difficult to build for these superstars.’ He commented: ‘Achieving a balance is a thin line. It wasn’t the highest track but it obviously rode tougher than it walked. However, it resulted in a brilliant jump-off.’

‘Emanuele certainly spoiled our party,’ joked Ben, ‘but I don’t think I could have done any more. My horse did everything for me – it felt like coming down to the last at Cheltenham! I’ve been a bit short of horse power this year, but she has always come forward for me when it matters and I won’t forget that.’

‘And I love my horse,’ declared Emanuele of the 10-year-old by Padinus that he has owned since a two-year-old. ‘He is clever and careful. I tried my best and it was good! I particularly chose to come here to try to qualify for the World Cup because I love this show, so to win here is great.’

Emanuele is now looking good for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final at Gothenburg, Sweden, in March; his win has propelled him from 42nd to 13th in the rankings which are headed by Germany’s Christian Ahlmann.

The FEI’s World Cup Director John Roche congratulated Olympic Director Simon Brooks-Ward and his team on an outstanding show. ‘It’s a great surface, horses love to jump in this environment and riders have the best crowd in the world behind him,’ added Ben Maher. ‘This is why it’s my favourite show.’

To view the full results, click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

Gaudiano Gallops to Victory in Longines Thriller in London

Emanuele Gaudiano and Admara produced a devastating turn of speed in the jump-off to win the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Olympia. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Olympia, London (GBR), 20 December 2015 – The Christmas show at the Grand Hall in Olympia is always something special, and the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League more than lived up to expectations today when Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano produced a sensational victory at the London (GBR) venue.

In a 17-way jump-off, the 29-year-old rider and his plucky 10-year-old gelding simply blew the rest away with a fearless gallop when eleventh to go against the clock. A top-class list of home contenders were obliged to line up behind him, with Ben Maher coming closest to take runner-up spot with Diva ll ahead of Michael Whitaker and Viking in third, world no. 1 Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady in fourth and Guy Williams and Titus in fifth place.

A total of 36 horse-and-rider combinations from 14 nations took part, and Bernardo Costa Cabral set them a 13-fence track that Brash described as “twisty and turny”. The narrow confines of the Olympia ring always presents quite a course-building challenge, and the Portuguese course designer described his creation as “not one of the tallest tracks, but technical enough – it walked tougher than it rode.” That was borne out when five of the first seven starters jumped clear, but the double of oxer to vertical at fence eight, and the last two fences which consisted of a massive 1.75m-wide oxer followed by a water-tray vertical took their toll.

Bold and brave

The real excitement kicked off when Williams set the jump-off target with a fabulous round from the bold and brave 15-year-old Titus who stopped the clock in 37.74 seconds. This pair’s relentless gallop from the penultimate oxer to the final fence had the crowd gasping with incredulity, but little did they know what was still to come.

Five horses later they were on the edges of their seats once again as Maher produced a fabulous flowing round from the 10-year-old mare Diva who tapped a few poles but left them all in place, and with a great turn to the penultimate red oxer galloped into the lead in 37.15 seconds.

Next to go, Brash took a pull before the last that may have cost valuable fractions of seconds to temporarily slot into runner-up spot when crossing the line with his nine-year-old mare Hello M’Lady in 37.49 seconds. And when Dutch contender Jur Vrieling’s brilliant grey, VDL Zirocco Blue, threw in a stop at the double, now four fences from home, and German ace Marcus Ehning’s stallion Comme Il Faut stood too far off the penultimate oxer for four faults, then Gaudiano was still chasing Maher’s leading time when next into the ring.

Great run of form

And the Italian showed exactly why he took the Leading Rider trophy last weekend in Geneva (SUI) where he enjoyed a great run of form. As always, throwing caution to the wind, he set off with complete determination and Admara answered his every call, showing precisely the same level of commitment as the man on board to race through the timers in 36.20 seconds and really put it up to the rest of them.

Try as they would, none could match their speed and accuracy, although, last to go, Michael Whitaker gave the home crowd one more moment of magic when quick enough to slot into third place. Whitaker said afterwards that he had “a terrible stride at the third and a terrible stride at the fourth which is why I didn’t win!” But for Gaudiano and his courageous gelding it was a day when everything fell into place.

Talking about his jump-off round, the Italian rider said the eight strides from the opening triple bar to the following oxer was very long for the short-striding Admara, and that while many of the others could cover the distance from the penultimate oxer to the last on seven strides, “I did eight but I still won!

“I knew I would have to go very fast if I was to win, but I have a fantastic horse who is very clever and careful, and I love him!” he said of the gelding which he has had since the horse was just two years old. “To win here is very nice for me. Italy has only one place in the World Cup series and I chose to come here because I really love this show,” he added.

Impossible to beat

“When Emanuele is clear it’s impossible to beat him,” said runner-up Ben Maher. “He’s known as a very fast rider, but next year he’s better off in Italy than here because he’s spoiled our party here today!” the British rider added with a grin. “It was difficult course in a tight ring and I couldn’t have done any more with my horse today; she did everything for me,” Maher added.

Today’s result has rocketed Gaudiano from 42nd spot on the Western European League leaderboard all the way up to 13th, and well within a shot of a place at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next March. So the Italian rider said today that he will hope to pick up some more points at the ninth leg of the series in Leipzig, Germany in January. There were some other significant moves on the leaderboard also, with Maher moving up from 51st place to 23rd while Michael Whitaker picked up his first points of the season to go into 33rd position.

There are four remaining legs of the Western European League, and the next will take place in Mechelen, Belgium on 30 December with Germany’s Christian Ahlmann still holding pole position ahead of French riders Simon Delestre and Penelope Leprevost.

For further information on the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League Olympia, London (GBR), visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Jo Peck, JoPeck@hpower.co.uk, +44 1753 847 900.

The next leg will take place at Mechelen in Belgium on 30 December 2016. For details of the Belgian fixture, go to www.jumping-mechelen.com or contact Press Officer Edith de Reys, edith.dereys@skynet.be, +32 475 65 92 81.

Full result here.

Facts and Figures:

The Grand Hall at Olympia in London (GBR) was the venue for the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League this afternoon.

36 horse-and-rider combinations from 14 countries competed.

15 of the top 30 riders in the Longines world rankings were in action.

The winning partnership was Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano with the 10-year-old KWPN gelding Admara.

Today’s win has promoted the Italian rider to 13th place on the Western European League leaderboard which continues to be headed by Germany’s Christian Ahlmann.

Course designer was Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral.

The time-allowed in the first round was 69 seconds and Britain’s Robert Whitaker was unlucky to miss out on a place in the jump-off when picking up just a single first-round time fault with Catwalk lV.

17 clears in the first round.

8 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear.

4 British riders finished in the top five in today’s competition.

The next leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League will take place at Mechelen in Belgium on 30 December

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden from 23 to 28 March 2016.

Quotes:

Emanuele Gaudiano ITA (1st): “London is a very nice show; if you have the opportunity to win or do well it’s great and there are a lot of classes to compete in.”

Ben Maher GBR (2nd): “Diva is a very feisty horse, and it felt like I was at Cheltenham coming to the last! She’s been fantastic for me this year, always comes forward for me when it matters, and that’s the sign of a great horse.”

Michael Whitaker GBR (3rd): “I’m very happy with my horse [Viking]; the jump-off wasn’t my best jump-off ever, but it just shows how good he is to be third.”

Bernardo Costa Cabral, Course Designer: “I’m very happy with the way they jumped. I was very confident because they’ve [the horse and riders] have been jumping well all week and were prepared for this World Cup.”

John Roche, FEI Jumping Director: “Congratulations to Olympia, Simon Brooks-Ward and his team for organising this outstanding event and a very special thank you to Longines and H&M (today’s sponsors) for their support.”

Michael Whitaker GBR (3rd), when asked how the sport has changed in recent years: “It’s getting faster, or I’m getting slower – the whole sport has improved!”

Ben Maher GBR (2nd): “The surface is great, the horses jump well in this environment, riders have the best crowd in the word behind them – everybody wants to win at Olympia!”

Full standings here.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL

Rider biographies: view online and download from http://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

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

IJsbrand Chardon Beats Boyd Exell at London Olympia

IJsbrand Chardon on his way to beating Boyd Exell at London Olympia. (Photo: FEI/Trevor Meeks)

London Olympia (GBR), 19 December 2015 – The Netherlands’ IJsbrand Chardon tonight succeeded in doing what all the drivers in the FEI World Cup™ Driving series are aiming to do. The four-time World Champion pipped the so-far-unbeatable Boyd Exell from Australia with two fast and faultless rounds in the electric atmosphere of the Grand Hall at Olympia in London (GBR). Exell, who competed with a wild card, finished second ahead of Koos de Ronde (NED) in third.

It is the third time that Chardon has won the leg in London, having previously been victorious in 2011 and 2013. And he performed very well throughout the three competition days, which included an extra competition on the first day that did not count for the World Cup.

By earning the 10 World Cup points, Chardon is now certain of a starting ticket for the Final in Bordeaux, France along with Exell and de Ronde.

From the largest to the smallest arena

Dutch Level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs was responsible for the course last week in the largest arena in Geneva, Switzerland and took up the challenge to design another exciting course in the smallest arena in the FEI World Cup™ Driving series in London Olympia, which worked out very well.

The spectators, who have become very knowledgeable over the past few years, very much enjoyed the performances of the seven drivers, and the atmosphere in the beautiful Olympia Hall was just amazing.

Grow in the competition

IJsbrand Chardon did not use his regular leader horse Aladin as he had a cough on arrival in England earlier this week. He replaced the gelding with the more experienced but tougher-to-drive Lipizzaner horse Inci who, however, had previous experience as part of the team. “I know that Inci has to grow in the competition, he just needs a bit of time. My horses felt super and I haven’t knocked any balls down for three days, which is brilliant,” Chardon said tonight.

He analysed both his own rounds and those of Exell on video after the first competition yesterday, and he subsequently decided to take a shorter route, which resulted in the second-fastest time, only one second behind Exell, who had a knock down. Chardon went into the Winning Round over an altered course with almost nine seconds of an advantage, but he still went for it. “I had a very safe feeling but I did drive at full speed. I knew I could have one knock down, and when I went clear the feeling was just great!” the winning driver said.

With his ticket to the final now in his pocket, and with one more competition to go in Mechelen (BEL) later this month, Chardon will try some alternate set-ups to his team in order to get the good feeling again for Bordeaux.

Not affect Christmas

Boyd Exell won the extra competition and the first competition and was last to go in the first round, where he set the fastest time. He was unfortunately plagued with team set-up problems and had one knock down, which put him into third position. After only a short break, he had to enter the arena again for the Winning Round and had no time to think about his tactics.

His plan to take a different route in one of the marathon type obstacles failed, he lost speed and rhythm and a ball fell, leaving the 2014 Olympia winner in runner-up spot at the end of the day.

“It is good for the sport that somebody else wins,” Exell said afterwards. “I am still pleased with my second place. I can’t expect to win all the time and I am for sure not going to let this ruin Christmas!” he added.

The last time Exell was beaten at an FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg was in Leipzig, Germany earlier this year, where Koos de Ronde was the strongest.

Exciting finish

The Dutch team gold medallist, de Ronde, has had his ups and downs this week. He finished sixth in the first competition after having made several changes in his team of horses. He actually made some changes during the warm-up session today as well, and finally re-found the right feeling.

He went for it in in the first round, knowing that his fellow competitors were all eager to make it to the Winning Round as well. He drove clear in a fast time, and only Chardon managed to beat him in the end. De Ronde was then unlucky again in the Winning Round where he had 20 penalty seconds added to his time after two knockdowns and rebuilding the course.

His unlucky run, however, wasn’t finished yet. De Ronde caused excitement when his left wheeler horse and left leader horse fell just after passing the finish line. “I passed the finish at high speed when my left horses fell. I got pulled off the carriage but my horses quickly got back on their feet and did not get injured,” the Dutchman explained afterwards.

Johan Jacobs stood in their way and grabbed the team quickly, and in the true spirit of this great sport Boyd Exell and some of the other competitors rushed into the arena to also see if they could do anything help. However, de Ronde presented his team in the prize-giving ceremony, showing the spectators that everything was fine with his four-legged friends.

Strong competition

The remaining four drivers pushed their teams of horses in a very strong competition, where the level was extremely high, including second wild card driver Dan Naprous from Great Britain.

Hungary’s József Dobrovitz drove a short route from gate 8 to 9, but the risk didn’t pay off when a ball fell. It cost him a place in the Winning Round and dropped him to fourth place in the final analysis.

London Olympia was Dobrovitz’ fourth and last competition of this series, and with just 12 points picked up so far it is very unlikely that he will make it to the Final. The goal of Germany’s Georg von Stein was to drive very fast so he could afford a ball, but he unfortunately came short over one second and had one ball. Von Stein has one more competition to go and is currently in fifth place in the standings.

After finishing third in the first competition, Glenn Geerts from Belgium was determined to equal this performance today, but he unfortunately had three knockdowns and finished sixth. Geerts will compete on home turf in Mechelen (BEL) with a wild card, and then in Leipzig where he will get his last chance to earn enough points to enter the Top Six.

Dan Naprous, who is a stuntman by profession and currently working on the film “Wonder Woman”, put down very good performances with his team of Lipizzaner horses. And although he is always disappointed to finish last, he also accepted that the world-class drivers in London were very hard to beat.

New look and feel

Johan Jacobs and the Organising Committee gave the obstacles on the course a bit of a make-over, which resulted in several obstacles shaped as Christmas gifts.

“We are keen to have our own obstacles with a different look and feel,” Show Director Simon Brooks-Ward said.

The bridge on the course was completely new, and the Olympia jumping obstacles were used as wings at the entrance and exit of the bridge. The standard orange cones were covered with green sleeves to add to the Christmas theme that makes this horse show such a hugely popular event at this time of year.

Results in detail can be viewed here.

The 2015/2016 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Mechelen (BEL) on Wednesday, 30 December.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Mechelen will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on 30 December at 21:50 hrs.

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 the FEI World Cup™ Driving, please check the FEI website.

By Cindy Timmer

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

Ijsbrand Chardon Back in the Driving Seat at Olympia

Dutch carriage-driver Ijsbrand Chardon stood up in his carriage and waved to a madly cheering audience at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, after winning the FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell.

Ijsbrand had achieved the seemingly impossible in overhauling the hitherto unbeatable world number one Boyd Exell, who was competing on a wild card at Olympia, and is now guaranteed a place in the final in Bordeaux, France, in February.

Koos de Ronde, also from the Netherlands, finished third, despite a tip-up after crossing the finish line in the final round. His horses, however, were none the worse for the spill and were able to perform in the traditionally rousing prize-giving ceremony.

Showing the camaraderie for which the sport is renowned, all the other drivers rushed to help. Boyd commented: ‘No one likes accidents to happen but it is good for spectators to see how difficult our sport is.’

He added sportingly: ‘It is good for the sport for someone else to win – this certainly won’t ruin my Christmas!’

Ijsbrand’s victory was all the more remarkable because he had to switch his usual lead horse, Aladin, due to the horse having a cough. Instead, he drove the more experienced but harder to manage Lipizzaner Inci.

‘The feeling was just great,’ said a visibly elated Ijsbrand, a man who has dominated the sport of carriage-driving for three decades. ‘I know that Inci has to grow in competition; he just needs a bit of time. My horses felt super and I haven’t knocked any balls down for three days, which is brilliant.’

The British representative Daniel Naprous, whose ‘day job’ is as a stuntman on the film Wonder Woman, put up a good performance with his team of Lipizzaner horses. He was disappointed to finish last, but acknowledged that the overseas drivers are very hard to beat.

The sell-out house was also treated to a spectacular competition from the Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals where Greg Derrett and Devongem Rehab Sproglett went clear in an impressive time of 32.78secs to clinch the title.

In the showjumping, Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher continued his run of form when emerging victorious in the fast and thrilling Shelley Ashman International Ltd, K M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Father Christmas Stakes on Callisto.

The long-time leader of this accumulator competition was John Whitaker on Lord of Arabia, ahead of his younger brother Michael (Right Now Semilly). ‘Watching John’s round was a big advantage for me because I was able to create a good plan,’ said Hans-Dieter. ‘It was a fast course, with short turns, and I had to go for it. Luckily, my horse is very careful.’

Next, Ben Maher produced a superb display of power jumping on new ride Boomerang to scoop €15,000 in the winner-takes-all Christmas Masters.

This fascinating competition, which is all about tactics and clearing huge fences, is open to the seven riders currently heading the H & M Leading Rider of Show table. Each clear round means another €500 in the prize pot, the fences keep going up, and a rail down spells elimination.

By the end of the fourth round, only Switzerland’s formidable Pius Schwizer (Leonard de la Ferme CH), Ben and Jur Vreiling were left to jump off against the clock for the jackpot.

Pius had a fence down and Ben went clear, but in a time that was slow enough to leave the door open yet fast enough to put pressure on the Dutch Olympian, who hit the second fence.

‘There’s an enormous amount of tactics, and I think this sort of competition is a way that the sport could develop,’ commented Ben. ‘They’re probably the biggest jumps we’ll see this week and the crowd loves it.

‘We have an agreement beforehand that the winner buys everyone drinks – and no doubt the others will take me up on it!’

Ben has acquired the ride on the nine-year-old Boomerang, and also on Quabble, through Danish rider Emilie Martinsen, who is taking a break from competing. ‘Everything is new territory with this horse – he’s still has to be led into the ring,’ explained Ben. ‘But although he’s now quite tired after five rounds, he’s learned a lot. It’s a great way to end the year.’

There was yet another British win in the Christmas Tree Stakes, in which William Whitaker and his uncle John finished first and third, split by Finnish visitor Anna-Julia Kontio on her beautiful grey Fardon.

Thirteen of the 21 starters went through to a mammoth jump-off, but there were only five clears, of which William’s was the fastest on Balibu – keeping it in the family, the 10-year-old chestnut by Baloubet is owned by another uncle, Michael.

‘I’m thrilled with the way he has come on,’ said William. ‘Even though it was quite a small class I knew it would be tight because there were so many good combinations.’

Uncle John, beaten by about 1/100th of a second, admitted he was ‘sick as a parrot’, but pointed out that his mare, Ornellaia, hadn’t got the biggest of strides.

‘Every fence came up perfectly and I don’t think anyone was faster than me at the second to last fence, but William did the last in six strides and I intended to do the same, but she just didn’t seem to get there,’ he explained.

There’s two more days of exciting competition to come but, for now, John, the senior rider at Olympia, has the satisfaction of heading the H & M Leading Rider of Show leaderboard.

To view the full results click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

Chloe Performs the Ride of the Valkyrie at Olympia

Chloe Winchester crowned a brilliant year with victory in The Dodson & Horrell and The World Class Programme U23 British Championships at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, on her ‘horse of a lifetime’, Avoca Valkyrie.

Abbe Burchmore-Eames, who was first into the arena and set the standard with a beautiful clear round, finished second on Wilandri E.

Jessica Mendoza, winner of last night’s Longines Christmas Cracker, was on speedy form again, on Wan Architect, but, with the class at her mercy, hit the final planks in the jump-off and dropped to third place. “I guess I used up all my luck last night,” she said ruefully.

Six riders jumped clear – Millie Allen (Balou Star), George Whitaker (Gipsy Boy), and last year’s winner, Kerry Brennan (Wellington M) were the other three – and they joined the fastest four-faulters in a 10-horse jump-off.

Abbe was the first to go clear, in 39.13 seconds, but she was overtaken by Chloe on the good time of 33.89. Jessica, who was last to go, was fastest of all, on 33.03 but the final fence got in the way of a second Olympia victory.

“I’m over the moon,” said Chloe, 21. “As I galloped down to the last fence I thought that if got that right, I had a shot at winning. It’s amazing to ride here at Olympia – you just want to do it again and again.”

Chloe says Valkyrie, her 12-year-old Irish-bred mare, winner of the Queen Elizabeth Cup at the Royal International Horse Show in July, is “a bit of a diva. But in four years she’s taken me from 1.30m to nations cups and has been amazing.”

Abbe was ecstatic to be second, as it’s her last year in the prestigious class which has set, among others, world number one Scott Brash on the road to stardom.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Abbe. “All I wanted was a clear round and a rosette, so it’s great to be in the prize-giving in my last year. It’s been one of my best years, but this is the icing on the cake.”

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

Jessica Mendoza Raises the Spirits

British rising star Jessica Mendoza’s first campaign in senior classes at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, got off to a spectacular start with a brilliant win in the Longines Christmas Cracker on a sell-out evening.

Fifteen horses went through to the jump-off, six of them British, and Laura Renwick threw down the challenge with a superb round on her World Cup horse, Bintang ll, for 33.09 seconds.

But then Jessica pulled off an astonishing tight turn in the air on her brilliantly nippy Spirit T. The crowd gasped, and there was a worrying split-second when the mare rattled the first part of the double, but they continued clear and flew across the arena to the last without taking a pull.

Other riders copied, but none could catch a committed Jessica, even though the experienced Swiss rider Pius Schwizer on PSG Future came with a fraction of a second to take the runner-up spot, ahead of Laura Renwick.

“Everyone was going so quickly; I knew I had to do something,” said Jessica afterwards. “When I went into the arena, the turn looked horrible, but I knew I wouldn’t win if I didn’t do it.”

Jessica, who played a key part in achieving Britain’s Olympic qualification at the European Championships in Aachen, admitted that an international win was her big ambition for the weekend, but she has plenty more chances to impress.

At only 19, she is still eligible for the Dodson & Horrell and World Class Programme Under-23 Championship tomorrow and she has Spirit T, a 14-year-old bay mare, for the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier on Sunday and a younger horse for Monday’s Olympia Grand Prix.

Earlier, British rider Guy Williams on Golddigger pulled off an equally thrilling victory in the Levy Restaurants Snowman Stakes, in which riders were drawn in seven groups, with the fastest clear in each going through to a jump-off.

With the suspense building, it took until the last group to produce a British representative in the jump-off, and the crowd erupted into loud cheers as Guy conjured a bold clear in 58.79 seconds, the second fastest of the competition, from the willing Golddigger.

The pair was second last to go in the jump-off and the 16-year-old stallion boldly took strides out and produced huge leaps on angles.

Only German Hans-Dieter Dreher on Callisto could have beaten Guy, but, to gasps, the white-faced bay gelding put in a sharp stop when asked to make a tight turn.

Guy explained: ‘Golddigger is difficult to ride indoors because he’s got such a massive stride, but he’s such a good horse and will do anything for you.’

Dutch rider Jur Vreiling, a European team gold medallist this year, set the evening alight when triumphing in the Christmas Speed Stakes on Arezzo VDL ahead of France’s Simon Delestre (Stardust Quinhon) and Beh Maher (Boomerang). He took it in good part when taking a tumble in prize-giving and was laughing as he left the arena.

Boyd Exell will be in pole position in tomorrow’s final of the FEI World Cup™ Driving, presented by Dodson & Horrell, after producing a performance of pin-point accuracy under pressure.

The Australian, recently named the Reem Acra FEI Athlete of the Year, kept his head in a tense drive-off against experienced Dutchman Ijsbrand Chardon and the exciting young Belgian Glen Geerts. Despite having a ball down, the world champion was five seconds faster than Chardon.

‘The crowd was magnificent and spurred my horses on,’ Exell said. ‘They were flying. When I had a ball down, my navigator said, “You’d better up the pace now!”’

International event rider Pippa Funnell appeared in a new guise – as groom/navigator on the back of a carriage pulled by a pony from the World Horse Welfare, Olympia’s Charity of the Year.

In a light-hearted competition, the grooms were handed a bucket brimming with ice they could throw at a nominee of their choice. This turned out to be Roly Owers, the charity’s chief executive, who took his dousing in smiling good heart. ‘It is for a good cause, after all,” he laughed.

Pippa added: ‘This is the worthiest of causes. All the parents out there being pushed by their children to buy them a pony for Christmas, think instead of offering a good home to one that really needs it through World Horse Welfare.’

To view the full results, click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

It’s Sunshine All the Way in Alltech Puissance at Olympia

Two riders fought all the way to share a thrilling Alltech Puissance at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, after both their horses jumped superbly over five rounds.

Jos Verlooy from Belgium and Germany’s Hilmar Meyer were the only two to make it through to the fifth round and shared the spoils – which were presented by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, paying her annual visit to Olympia – after soaring over the famous wall at 2.15m (7ft 1in).

Meyer first came to Olympia a couple of years ago as a groom; now, on his first visit as a competitor, he is celebrating winning one of the most prestigious classes. His horse, the 13-year-old Continuo by Contendro, is a puissance specialist and has taken many classes in Europe.

“I’m very proud of my horse,” said Meyer. “It’s an unbelievable feeling jumping that high, but only with the right horse. It’s been great to ride here at Olympia; it’s such a great atmosphere.”
Unusually, Verlooy, 20, was using the class as a warm-up for the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier on Sunshine, a nine-year-old chestnut gelding. “I think that jumping a puissance can work well as a warm-up before a really big class,” he explained. “It was really exciting. I couldn’t believe how easily my horse jumped.”

Swiss rider Pius Schwizer riding Leonard de la Ferme CH, Victoria Gulliksen (Grand Balou), daughter of Norwegian Olympian and perennial Olympia visitor Geir Gulliksen, Ireland’s Trevor Breen on the dual Hickstead Derby winner Loughnatousa WB and last year’s runner-up, Karline De Branander from Belgium on her gallant mare Fantomas de Muze, all crashed out in the fourth round when the wall was 2.10m (6ft 11in).

ROBERT WHITAKER TURNS UP THE HEAT

Earlier in the evening there was a British one-two-three in the Porsche Cayenne Challenge, a speed class. The third last rider, Robert Whitaker, made an audacious turn to the water tray on Usa Today to grab the spoils by 0.15sec from William Funnell (Billy Angelo) and Laura Renwick (Heliodor Hybris).

“I’ve been coming to Olympia since I was a kid, watching my father [John], so it’s always fantastic to win,” said Robert. “Usa is not actually that fast, but he definitely likes the atmosphere.”

Drawn near the end of the starting order, Whitaker had spotted an opportunity earlier during the round of another of the challengers.

“Jos Verlooy (BEL) almost made it but it didn’t quite come off,” said Robert. “When I jumped the fence before the turn, USA Today landed in a way that gave me enough space to get the tight right-handed turn in.”

Robert pointed out that winning at Olympia, The London International Horse Show is particularly special for the world’s top riders.

“Everyone wants to win here, regardless of whether they are British or foreign riders,” he said.

Italian rider Emanuele Gaudiano was the first rider to chalk up an Olympia winner when taking the opening Santa Stakes on Caspar.

EXELL SETS THE BAR HIGH IN OLYMPIA’S EXTREME

In the Dodson & Horrell Top Score Extreme Carriage Driving competition, Australia’s Boyd Exell showed, yet again, why he is the current world horse four-in-hand champion, both indoors and out. His thundering round, in which he gave a dazzling performance of rein handling, through the course that featured two obstacles and a bridge, recorded a time some seven seconds faster than his fellow contestants.

Speaking after the competition, Exell remarked that his horses felt like ‘magic’ in his hands. “I had to constantly slow them down rather than urge them on,” he remarked. He was disappointed, though, to incur a five-second penalty when a ball fell. “It had felt like a clear round,” he said.

Today’s contest was a forerunner to the two qualifying legs of the FEI World Cup Driving, the first of which features tomorrow with the Final on Saturday evening. The Olympia crowd was treated to the thrilling spectacle of this competition – the finale of the afternoon performance – as each driver pushed their horses to their limits round the tight course. Exell’s closest challenger, Ijsbrand Chardon from the Netherlands – himself a previous World champion indoors and out, was the only competitor to drive clear. Seven seconds slower than Exell, however, meant the Australian claimed the crown by a less than two second margin. Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary, driving at Olympia for the first time, was third.

To view the full results, click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

Carl Hester Claims Freestyle Victory at Olympia, the London International Horse Show

Photo credit Kit Houghton/Hpower.

Last night after the Grand Prix at Olympia, The London Horse Show, Carl Hester threw down the gauntlet. Tonight he put words into action and with Nip Tuck (83.750%) ran out the winner of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound.

Promising the most difficult freestyle he could muster, the British Olympic and European gold medallist delivered with a brand new test of high technical difficulty and was delighted to nail the win. It was also a convincing personal best (PB) freestyle score for the combination.

“This is really huge for me,” said a delighted Hester. “Last night I thought I had a chance and decided to grab it. I was a little nervous as to whether it would come off and to produce a test like that you really have to have a horse on your side. It just goes to show that after 25 years in the job and riding Grand Prix you never really know what you have and Nip Tuck is really turning into something I never thought he was.”

The showcase performance by the British Master relegated the then leaders Charlotte Dujardin and Uthopia (82.55), to second place. The pair had produced an energetic and expressive test and also produced their highest and best score to date.

“I am really happy with the test,” said Charlotte, who is lining up the Dutch-bred stallion as a second string for Rio.

“Last night he felt really fresh and tonight a little tired and there were a few errors. He is a very different ride to Valegro and is a little ring shy and I still have to hold his hand a bit but he tried so hard.”

Hans Peter Minderhoud, a regular Dutch visitor to Olympia, and Glock’s Flirt (80.975) took third and in a night of PBS followed suit producing a score marginally higher than their bets and winning score in Stockholm last month.

“I was pleased with that – it was a little difficult coming in after Charlotte but he really tried for me and it is a great feeling when they are on your side,” said Minderhoud who always puts Olympia in his diary. “I love the show and London,” said Hans. “It is a great show, a great audience and a good way to end the year before Christmas.”

Lambert plays a winning game

Juggling a revision timetable for medical finals and show jumping training produced its first fruitful result for Olympia first-timer Second Lt Amy Lambert of the Army Medical Services. Riding her own Chequers Play the Game, she jumped the sole double clear of the Services Jumping Championships to secure the title.

“I didn’t realise I was the only double clear until after the class,” said Second Lt Lambert, whose medical finals are in just three weeks’ time. “I am absolutely ecstatic – you are doing well to qualify for this final.”

In preparation for her exams and this competition, Second Lt Lambert has been based at event rider Vittoria Panizzon’s yard for the past week. “Elvis,” as Chequers Play the Game is known at home, competes successfully with Vittoria in eventing and won the Aldon CIC** with her just two months ago.

To view the full results, click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

Hester Pips Dujardin in Battle of the British Olympians in London

Carl Hester and Nip Tuck. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Olympia, London (GBR) 16 December 2015 – Carl Hester pipped his super-star protégé, fellow-Olympian and world no. 1 rider Charlotte Dujardin, for victory in the spell-binding sixth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). Riding Nip Tuck, the 11-year-old gelding with which he helped clinch team silver at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany, the 48-year-old rider delivered a performance that simply demonstrated why he has long been a legend in this sport.

Winner of the third leg of the series in Stockholm, Sweden last month, Hans Peter Minderhoud from The Netherlands lined up third with Glock’s Flirt, while on a great night for the home-country contenders, Lara Griffith claimed fourth spot with Rubin Al Asad.

Ground Jury President, Great Britain’s Stephen Clarke, put tonight’s competition into perspective when he said, “It was fantastic; the whole level was really high with all the riders going for it. Hans Peter and Charlotte both did great tests, but then Carl came in with a degree of difficulty that was just amazing. He spent the first five minutes on the centre line! It was a test with a great degree of difficulty that worked, and that’s why he won.”

Influence

Hester’s influence on tonight’s competition even extended to the rider who held pole position until after the halfway stage. Trainer and rider, 32-year-old Hayley Watson-Greaves, is coached by the man who joined Dujardin on the British gold medal winning side at the London 2012 Olympic Games. And she sparkled when second to go with the fabulous black gelding Rubins Nite, taking all the risks to post a mark of 75.075.

It was fellow-countrywoman Griffith who demoted her from the top of the order, showing rhythm and relaxation as her 13-year-old gelding strutted his stuff to a rousing Scottish-themed musical score. Posting 78.025 for a test the judges described as “close to perfection technically,” this 27-year-old rider was always going to finish well in the frame, but Dujardin created a whole new parameter when next into the arena with Uthopia.

The 14-year-old stallion has not shown for the last two years and Dujardin has only competed him “seven or eight times” during her sensational career which has principally been dominated by her extraordinary partnership with the amazing gelding Valegro. But she stormed to victory in yesterday’s Grand Prix, pinning Hester and Nip Tuck into runner-up spot ahead of Minderhoud and Glock’s Flirt, and a repeat performance seemed very much on the cards this evening.

Calling card

The pair produced breathtaking extended trot and fabulous tempi changes, and although their final few movements didn’t come together they stamped 82.550 on their calling card, leaving it up to the rest to chase that. Minderhoud followed with a great effort that earned 80.975, but, second last to go, it was clear that Hester wasn’t riding for runner-up spot this time out.

“I just chucked everything at it to see what I could do! I know the degree of difficulty is being stepped up so I took every movement that was difficult and just rode it one day, wrote it down and then did it again the next day. With this horse I have no choice; if I want to be in the top lot I have to do something that showcases that,” he said after posting the winning mark of 83.750.

Stephen Clarke said at the post-competition press conference, “This man (Hester) just keeps opening all sorts of chapters! It was certainly a very exciting test and the music also worked beautifully. It wasn’t just that it was a difficult test, but that he managed to make it look easy. Pirouettes on centre line – both of them were really really good; he kept adding to the degree of difficulty and it really worked,” he added.

Never say never

Hester said that Nip Tuck has taught him to “never say never!” He had a long history of runner-up placings at Olympia since he first competed at the hugely popular Christmas fixture back in 2003, so this result was particularly satisfying. “I’m very proud of Nip Tuck; I’ve had him since he was a year old and he’s still only 11. He’s over 18 hands high – not a traditional dressage horse, not really made to do dressage, but in his head he is a gold medallist and that’s why his body gets better and better,” he explained.

Dujardin, who affectionately calls Hester “granddad,” said she didn’t mind having to settle for second place tonight. “If there’s one person to be beaten by, it’s granddad; he inspires me every day,” she said. “Watching him made me have goose-pimples. He said he was going to nail his floorplan tonight and he did such a cracking job, he made it look effortless. I’m so thrilled for him because he’s always wanted to win here and he’s done it at last!” said the rider who, with her no. 1 horse Valegro, holds every record and every title in the sport.

Today’s third placing has now promoted Hans Peter Minderhoud to the top of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Western European League table. I’m very lucky that I have three fantastic horses,” the Dutchman said. “I did two qualifiers with Glock’s Romanov and two with Flirt, and I will do two next year with Johnson and then decide which one to ride in the Final,” he explained.

“Yesterday it was quite close in the Grand Prix; I knew it would be hard to beat one of the Brit superstars, but they are great friends and I’m very happy for them!” he insisted.

Winning horse

Hester meanwhile mused about how much better he can do with tonight’s winning horse. “I missed my canter passage; I didn’t nail the transition and the walk isn’t relaxed. The halt was very difficult at end because he’s so used to everyone clapping, so there are still more points I can work on but I need to keep competing in this sort of atmosphere,” he said.

For the moment, however, Nip Tuck won’t be under any pressure. “He will have until the new year off; he’s very energetic and keeps himself very fit and is quite happy living out in field. So he will do that until January.”

He hopes that Uthopia, whose previous achievements include European team gold in Rotterdam (NED) in 2011 and Olympic team gold at London 2012, will be a reserve horse for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “Charlotte will hopefully qualify him in Amsterdam,” Hester said. So there is every incentive to look forward to the next leg of the Reem Acra series at the Dutch fixture at the end of January.

For further information on the sixth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European League at Olympia, London (GBR), go to www.olympiahorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Jo Peck, jopeck@hpower.co.uk, +44 1753 847 900.

The next leg will take place in Amsterdam (NED) on 29/30 January 2016. For information on the Dutch fixture, visit http://www.jumpingamsterdam.nl/ or contact Press Officer Charlotte Gunnink, media@jumpingamsterdam.nl, +31 638325326.

Detailed result here.

Facts and Figures:

The London International Horse Show at Olympia presented the sixth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European League tonight.

15 riders from 8 nations – Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Ukraine – competed.

British horse-and-rider combinations filled the top two places, Carl Hester and Nip Tuck pipping Charlotte Dujardin and Uthopia.

Dujardin is ranked world no. 1 with her Valegro, the horse with which she claimed double-gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA), and with which she was crowned Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion in both 2014 and 2015.

Hester’s winning score with the 11-year-old gelding was 83.750.

The Ground Jury panel of judges consisted of: At E, Andrew Gardner (GBR); At C, Stephen Clarke (GBR); At B, Isabelle Judet (FRA); At H, Susanne Baarup (DEN); At M, Thomas Lang (AUT).

3 remaining rounds in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European league – at Amsterdam (NED) in January, at Neumuenster (GER) in February and at ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March 2016.

The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016 Final will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden from 23 to 28 March.

Quotes:

Carl Hester GBR (1st), talking about his winning horse, Nip Tuck: “A year ago he found it difficult to go round the edge let alone do the test. You have to have a special temp to be a winner, relaxed but with the energy to be a super star with pirouettes and passage.”

Charlotte Dujardin GBR (2nd), talking about the horse she rode tonight, Uthopia: “He hadn’t competed for nearly two years so last night I surprised myself (when winning the Grand Prix). It’s a great honour to ride a horse like Uthopia, to take him on after Carl. He felt a little tired tonight but he tried really hard. He hadn’t done that freestyle since Windsor two years ago, but he felt fantastic!”

Carl Hester GBR (1st), when asked about growing a beard to support the charity Decembeard: “I think I’m hormonally challenged; it took three weeks to get something growing on my chin!

“The bowel cancer charity asked me would I (grow a beard) and I said I can’t; I’m a dressage rider and I’m supposed to look chiselled and clean! But I gave in. I tried to trim it up for today but I look like a Dalmatian at the moment!”

Ground Jury President Stephen Clarke (GBR): “I have to say I think one of the best things for the sport this evening was that out of just half an ear could hear Imke (Bartels) and the commentary. She was so positive and honest and clear; it really made such a difference to the public, helped them understand and it’s one of the best things for the sport I have seen in a long time.”

Carl Hester GBR (1st): “Lara (Griffith) and Hayley (Watson-Greaves) were incredible tonight. The confidence of Hayley was great. We need to have future teams and Lara is such an elegant beautiful rider. It’s great to see her supported by the Bechtolsheimers who started me off. I’m very confident and happy to see new riders here; this is the best show in the world and with Reem Acra as the sponsor; we’re just thrilled to be here.”

Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED), 3rd: “It was quite noisy when I went in (to the arena) as Charlotte had just come out, but my horse was really going for it and had a great feeling. I was very happy; he’s a great horse; he’s really trying for me in the ring and gives me a super nice feeling. He’s not as pretty as my stallions but much easier!”

Carl Hester GBR (1st), talking about his future plans: “I’m taking Charlotte (Dujardin) to Amsterdam to get two qualifiers under her belt for the Final, but that’s me done for the season. I’ll appear in April after this big show. I’ve got to think about Rio for next year, so I will start the outdoor shows in April.”

Full standings here.

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

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

Charlotte Dujardin Claims 5th Consecutive Victory on Opening Night of Olympia

Photo credit Kit Houghton/Hpower.

For the fifth consecutive year, Charlotte Dujardin has won the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix (supported by Horse & Hound), much to the delight of the packed crowds at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

While the last four Grands Prix have been won with her Olympic gold medal partner Valegro, this year her winning ride was Uthopia (77.46%). The 14-year-old breeding stallion owned by Carl Hester was last ridden in competition by Dujardin to win the Grand Prix at Royal Windsor 19 months ago. He was also the horse that gave Hester his first team gold (European in 2011).

Uthopia came back to competition like he had never been away with a mistake free test full of expression and as first to go, the pair was the one to catch. Hester and Jane De La Mare’s team horse Nip Tuck (76.66%) couldn’t quite match the score. Despite highlights of clean piaffe and pirouettes the extensions failed to match those of the stallion and the pair was just less than 1% behind for second. While Dutch rider Hans Peter Minderhoud, a regular at Olympia, produced a strong test with Glock’s Flirt (76.12%) the 10-year-old Florestan gelding ran out of steam on the final line, losing balance and rhythm and valuable marks, to be a close third.

Unlike the past four years, this year’s win was an unexpected one for Dujardin especially as the indoor arena and the electric atmosphere at Olympia can prove difficult to master.

“It was quite a risk to come here and you couldn’t do that with many horses, but he has the best temperament in the world and I am over the moon to win.”

“It was also nice to bring another horse, take the pressure off Valegro and give another horse a chance,” said Dujardin who would now like to take Uthopia to Amsterdam.

Hester intends to come out fighting in tomorrow’s Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Freestyle with a new test for Nip Tuck set to new music based on the TV programme Mr Selfridge.

“I have gone for the most difficult test possible,” said Hester.

To view the full results, click HERE.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44(0)778 757 6490 or +44(0)207 592 1207

Olympia, The London International Horse Show
The first international horse show took place in the Olympia halls in 1907. Olympia, The London International Horse Show, the event we see today, was started by Raymond Brooks-Ward in 1971. This year’s show takes place on 15-21 December 2015 in the Olympia Exhibition Hall, located in West Kensington London. The show will play host to a packed timetable of all things equestrian and is expected to welcome over 90,000 visitors. It is regarded as one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine competitions. The show mixes top class equestrian action, including FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Dressage and Driving with family entertainment, such as the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.