Category Archives: Driving

Chester Weber Kicks Off 2017 Season with a Victory at Little Everglades CAI2*

Photo courtesy of Picsofyou.com.

Ocala, FL (February 4, 2017) – Team Weber opened the 2017 combined driving season with a victorious performance in the Little Everglades CAI2* on January 26-29 in Dade City, Florida with three new additions to his four-in-hand team.

Chester Weber, three-time World Equestrian Games Silver medalist and 13-time U.S. Four-in-Hand National Champion, did not fail to live up to his reputation as ‘Mr. Dressage’ at Little Everglades. Weber piloted his carefully selected KWPN combination of Boris W, Bastiaan, Splash, and First Edition to a winning score of 35.90 in the dressage phase, taking a firm lead over their closest contender.

Swapping Splash for Gouvernor, Weber then delivered a fast marathon phase to hold the lead (143.06) going into cones. In the cones phase, America’s only two-time Royal Windsor CAI3* winner wisely opted to keep the same foursome in harness, and finished with just 6.88 added penalties to their overall score. This resulted in a handy 50-point margin over a coast-to-coast roster of entries. Team Weber’s overall score was 149.94 to secure the win at Little Everglades.

“Our focus is now on the national championship at Live Oak International in March. We feel like we had a pretty commanding lead at this last event, so we are feeling particularly bullish going into Live Oak,” said Weber, of Ocala, Florida. The 2017 Live Oak International, held at the equestrian estate owned by the Weber family, will be held on March 9-12.

Weber was quick to credit his team and sponsors for his win at Little Everglades. “We are working with a relatively new group of horses. Gouvernor was part of our young horse program – we’ve had him since he was three. We’ve had Bastiaan, owned by Fritz Grupe, since mid-September. This was only their second show. Their last show was at Hermitage, and they have made real progress since then,” said Weber.

“Jane Clarks” Splash did a fantastic job. I was very pleased; the dressage judges all commented on the quality of the team and the movement — they were excited to see them continue to develop. That’s always a great feeling.”

Weber was particularly proud of the performance of another of his newer horses, First Edition, who had a rough introduction to his new home country after catching pneumonia while shipping to the United States in November. “First Edition, ‘Edison’, had an outstanding show in all three phases in the left lead. He is an eight-year-old that I think has big potential for the top of the international sport — evidenced by ending up with a dressage score in the mid-thirties and then having a dominating performance on marathon and cones.

It’s no surprise to combined driving enthusiasts that Weber took home first place at his first show of 2017, as he closed 2016 as the top-placed American entry at the FEI World Four-in-Hand Championships in Breda, The Netherlands. Team Weber will next continue to hone its winning form by competing at The Florida Horse Park Spring Fling CDE/DT/CT (CAC) Driving Competition in Ocala February 17-19.

After Live Oak International in March, Weber and his team will forge ahead to Europe to compete at several top sport competitions including The World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen, and FEI World Championships for Four-in-Hand. Follow Team Weber’s tournament schedule on www.ChesterWeber.com and learn all about Weber’s latest results, favorite equestrian products, and his star four-in-hand team on his official social media sites on Facebook and Instagram @ChesterWeber.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Interagro Lusitanos Wraps Up 2016 with Wins in Driving, Dressage, Paradressage, Working Equitation

Antonio Mariano de Souza secured the Brazilian Four-in-Hand Driving Championship with four Interagro horses: Cagliostro, Comanche, Democrito and Crispim.

Itapira, Sao Paulo, Brazil (January 19, 2017) – 2016 was a spectacular year for the Lusitano sport horse, as the versatile breed continues to curry favor among riders, trainers, and owners across a variety of disciplines. Through over 40 years of exceptional breeding and a dedication to evolving the modern Lusitano from the purest Portuguese bloodlines, Interagro Lusitanos has been a major catalyst for the breed’s growth and success over the past few decades. With successful Interagro progeny winning in working equitation, driving, dressage, and paradressage, the Brazilian stud and training facility continues to raise the bar as their horses compete internationally across 4 continents.

Interagro’s most recent win was earned in December, where Antonio Mariano de Souza secured the Brazilian Four-in-Hand Driving Championship with four Interagro horses: Cagliostro, Comanche, Democrito and Crispim. He was joined in the winner’s circle at the Driving Championships by Valentim Martins Brito, who secured the Pairs Reserve Championship with Comache Interagro and Crispim Interagro, and Fabio Roberto da Silva, who finished third in the pairs with Cagliostro Interagro and Democrito Interagro.

In addition to the driving phases, working equitation proved to be a major forte for Interagro and its riders in 2016. The 2016 Brazilian Working Equitation Championship/Cia de ET saw Gotico Interagro (Profano Interagro x Zibelina Interagro) and Divisadero Interagro (Tufao Interagro x Saranga (VAN)) top the national rankings in their divisions. Gotico was awarded 2016 Championship Brazilian Ranking in the Novice A Division, while Divisadero also topped the 2016 Brazilian Ranking in the Intermediate division. Escudeiro Interagro (Perdigueiro (MAC) x Athena Interagro), who was purchased at the 2013 Interagro National Auction by Mrs. Claudia Uenishi, rounded out the Interagro string of successes with Jose Faria in the saddle. In the beginning of 2016 and on a different continent, Working Equitation World Cup Champion Xaveco Interagro (Profano Interagro x Dona RC) repeated his World Cup success at the 2016 Haras Cup, the premier Working Equitation Championships in the United States. Hosted by Haras dos Cavaleiros of Magnolia, Texas, Xaveco was piloted by France’s Claire Moucadel and dominated in all three phases of the event.

Baldor Interagro and Pia Aragao (Photo courtesy of Ambar Dressage)

Interagro’s long list of Brazilian rankings extend into the dressage arena, where Baldor Interagro (Ofensor (MV) x Quinata Interagro) and Fellini Interagro (Nirvana Interagro x Batina Interagro) dominated their FEI divisions. Baldor and Pia Aragao swept the Small Tour at the Sao Paulo CDI-3/Brazilian Dressage Championships with a personal best score of 72.350 in their Freestyle. Fellini, also ridden and trained by Aragao, took top honors in the CAN National Dressage in Sao Paulo in May with scores of 8.20 and 7.18 in the FEI 6-Year-Old division, and won the Brazilian 6-Year-Old Championship at the Sao Paulo CDI-3 with final scores of 7.14 and 7.50.

Perhaps the highlight of Interagro’s slew of wins in 2016 was the achievement of Zizifo Interagro, who along with rider Patricio Guglialmelli of Argentina and owner Gea Einaudi of Italy qualified for and competed in the 2016 Rio Games. Competing for Argentina in the Paradressage, Zizifo’s accomplishment in the Paralympics marks a major milestone for Interagro, who through their breeding program has actively sought to develop a horse with the athleticism and temperament to compete in the upper echelons of horse sport.

In the spring of 2016, 5 of Interagro’s stallions were approved by the ABPSL Stud Book. Caudilho Interagro and Gladiador Interagro, who were presented for revision by internationally renowned Portuguese trainer and competitor Jorge Sousa, topped the field with scores of 75 and 74.5. Fellini Interagro finished with a score of 74, while Ditador Interagro and Empreiteiro Interagro earned 72 and 68.5.

In the United States, two of Interagro’s exported stallions also were successful in their revisions, with one making history as the highest score ever received in the US. Hobbit Interagro (Bungo Interagro x Radiosa (MAC)) and Governador Interagro (Ofensor (MV) x Quantia Interagro), both owned by Haras do Cavaleiros, were evaluated at the North American Lusitano Show by three judges: one from Brazil, one from France, and one from the ABPSL. Hobbit’s score of 76.5 is the highest score ever awarded to a Lusitano in the United States, following more than 200 horse revisions. Governador’s impressive score of 71 brought more acclaim for Interagro horses in North America.

Despite a lackluster Brazilian economy, the resounding success of Interagro’s 2016 Yearling Auction proved that the demand for exceptional Lusitano horses has not waned. With all but 2 fillies sold and an average price higher than 2015, the Yearling Auction also boasted a high turnout of Lusitano enthusiasts. With a number of unique and rare lineages represented in the auction barn, the average selling price of this year’s auction finished at 16,933 Brazilian reals, or approximately 5,187 US dollars. The elegant Ministro Interagro brought in 2016’s price highlight, selling for 42,000 Brazilian reals (USD 12,865).

With over 40 years of experience breeding, training, and exporting Lusitanos, Interagro’s mission is to preserve the exceptional bloodlines and qualities of the breed while showcasing their talent, beauty, and intelligence, especially in the FEI and sport horse disciplines. Established in 1975 by Dr. Paulo Gavião Gonzaga, Interagro’s initial vision was to preserve and restore the original foundational Lusitano bloodlines and lineages, many of which were in danger of extinction following the Portuguese Revolution of 1974. Through meticulous breeding, exceptional care, and world-class training, the Interagro Lusitanos of today continue that legacy as versatile, athletic, and intelligent partners for their riders and successful competitors on the international stage.

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com or follow them on Facebook. To organize a trip to Brazil or for any questions regarding sales or the logistics of importing horses to the US, contact their US Sales Representative, Peter van Borst at 817 368 9447.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
www.equinium.com
holly@equinium.com
954 205 7992

Boyd Exell Dominates Leipzig’s “Pop Concert”

Boyd Exell (Photo: FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

Leipzig (GER), 22 January 2017 – It was the most exciting battle you could think of at the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg in Leipzig. In the end, Australia’s Boyd Exell won with two tenths of a second advantage in front of Swiss driver Jerome Voutaz. Third place was for Dutchman Ijsbrand Chardon. All three of them showed clear rounds in the drive off.

After seven out of eight legs, Exell and Chardon are now together on the top of the World Cup Ranking list with 27 points. Koos des Ronde following with 25 points. Because Exell had a wild card for Leipzig, second placed Voutaz, earned a full ten points and is now in fifth place with 20 points.

“Leipzig is definitely one of my favourite shows,” explained Exell and added, laughing, “even if the result was closer than I wanted it to be.”

Exell ended up third in the first round after having the fastest time but one ball down in an obstacle. So he was the first to go in the drive off.

“On that position I only had one chance: to drive clear and put some pressure on the other drivers.” It was the third win for Exell in Leipzig after the World Cup final in 2011 and 2016.

Jerome Voutaz was undeniably happy about being second behind the three time World Cup winner from Australia. “I have been second in Leipzig behind Boyd last year and I am very happy to be so close to him this year. That alone is not easy. And next year I will try again to beat him,” said Voutaz with a smile.

Conversely, Ijsbrand Chardon started with bad luck in the driving competitions of Leipzig. During the first day, he had big problems with his reins and finished up last. He then had to go first in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition on Sunday, where he did a very fast round with one ball down, but ended up second in the first round.

“So I had to wait for about 25 minutes until the first round was over and it was my turn in the drive off. During that time I could only walk my horses and it was not easy to ‘wake them up’ again. I didn’t have such a good feeling in the drive off as in the first round, but nevertheless I am happy.”

Course designer Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf was especially pleased with the seventh leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving: “I liked the combination of technic and tempo in the course and what the drivers made out of it.  I was absolutely thrilled by the atmosphere during the drive off. It was like being at a pop concert.”

For the complete results and standings for the FEI World Cup™ Driving, click here.

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

By Kim Kreling

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

USEF Board of Directors Removes Recognized Affiliate Designation from American Driving Society

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announces that, effective immediately, The American Driving Society (ADS) will no longer be recognized by the USEF as the affiliate for the driving discipline. The change in recognition results from an inability to reach an agreement as to the responsibilities of the Recognized Affiliate for the driving discipline.

The USEF Board of Directors conducted a thorough review regarding the status of a draft affiliate agreement during the recent USEF Annual Meeting. This included a historical review of the work of ADS to meet its responsibilities as a USEF Recognized Affiliate and the specifics of the draft agreement. After considerable work with the ADS to reach an agreement, the USEF and the ADS remained at an impasse.

USEF CEO Bill Moroney stated, “We had hoped that over the course of the past year, the discussions would have proven to be successful and regret that we were unable to reach an agreement with the ADS that reflected its responsibilities as the Recognized Affiliate for the driving discipline.”

All responsibilities for the driving discipline under the USEF umbrella, including the fielding of championship teams, will be handled by USEF. The USEF leadership team has developed a comprehensive communication plan and will contact impacted constituencies with additional information. We welcome communication with driving competition organizers, officials, and competitors as we continue to move the sport of driving forward.

© 2017 US Equestrian Federation

IJsbrand Chardon Is the Master in Mechelen

IJsbrand Chardon. (FEI /Dirk Caremans)

Mechelen (BEL), 30 December 2016 – After a very close battle it was Dutchman IJsbrand Chardon who took the top honours by winning the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg in Mechelen for the first time in his career. Chardon stayed ahead of his rival, Australia’s Boyd Exell, for the second time this season. Exell finished in second place, ahead of Swiss driver Jerome Voutaz.

Five-time Mechelen-winner Koos de Ronde (NED) was a fraction of a second too slow to qualify for the winning round, in which the top three drivers started from scratch again. Glenn Geerts (BEL), who competed with a wild card, as well as Exell and De Ronde took the fifth place.

Dutch Level 4 Course Designer Jeroen Houterman had designed a challenging course with three marathon type obstacles and a bridge. Boyd Exell made a mistake twice in the third marathon obstacle, which cost him precious seconds in the first round and a knock down in the winning round: “In the first round I came in too fast and the loop in my reins was too long,” explained Exell. “This was a driver mistake. In the winning round my rein got caught at the bottom of my whip.  But I am very pleased with my horses and have to be a good sportsman, so I am happy with my second place.”

He did, however, put the pressure on Chardon, who was the last man in: “The footing was quite heavy, which made my horses a bit stronger. I did not have the great feeling I had when I won in Stuttgart, but I will keep on working on this team. My left leader horse is new in my team this season and he needs competition rhythm. I want to show that he can do it and he is on 80% compared to where he was in Stuttgart and I need him to be 100% in order to have the best feeling for the Final in Göteborg. My win here was not a gift. I like to win on my own strength,” he said. Chardon competed on 12 previous occasions in Mechelen, which has been part of the series since 2001.

Jérôme Voutaz qualified for the Winning Round by driving a very fast round in which he was three seconds faster than Chardon, but one knock down kept him from taking the lead. In the second round, which took place over a shortened course, the mechanic by profession picked up one ball again but he was nevertheless very pleased with his performance: “My horses went extremely well. I used two other horses compared to the previous events and I am very pleased with them. I also very much enjoyed driving this course. In the winning round I was determined not to make any mistakes and it was great to compete against the two best drivers in the world!”

Since Exell, De Ronde and Geerts competed with wild cards; the World Cup points went to Theo Timmerman (NED, 6th place), Georg von Stein (GER, 7th place) and Rainer Duen (GER, 8th place). Duen has completed his four World Cup events and has collected 7 points, with which he will not be qualified for the Final.

For the complete results, click here.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Leipzig will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Sunday, 22 January at 13.00 hrs. CET (local time in Germany, GMT+1 hour).

For information on Leipzig, go to www.partner-pferd.de or contact Press Officer Kirsten Maier, info@equiwords.de, +49 151 – 424 300 65.

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 Mechelen:

Edith de Reys
edith.dereys@skynet.be
+32 475 659 281

Vote for Para-Driver Stefanie Putnam for USEF Annual Equestrian of Honor Awards

Photo by Marie de Ronde-Oudemans.

Para-Equestrian Driver Stefanie Putnam has been named as a 2016 USEF semi-finalist for the Becky Grand Hart award.  Now there will be a vote by the general public over the next three weeks to choose a finalist who embodies the sportsmanship and dedication to the principles, vision, and mission of the United States Equestrian Federation.

Please cast your vote for Stefanie today! You do not need to be a member of USEF to vote.  See below for how to vote.

About Stefanie Putnam of West Lafayette, Calif.

Stefanie Putnam has been working towards accomplishing her international dreams for five years and on August 6, 2016 she did just that as the sole U.S. representative at the 2016 FEI World Para-Driving Championships in Beesd, The Netherlands. In her international debut, Stefanie achieved a remarkable individual fifth-place finish in the Grade I division, which included a third-place finish in the cones phase.

The key to her success is the magical connection she has established with her black Morgan gelding, Bethesda After Dark (“Shadow”). Paralyzed from the chest down in 2009 at the age of 24 in a non-horse-related accident, Stefanie began exploring carriage driving in 2010 as an alternative to jumping, which had been her lifeblood. In 2012, “Shadow” came into Stefanie’s life, launching her far beyond the confines of her wheelchair and opening up the adrenaline rush world of combined driving where she began to shine. Stefanie, who has minimal feeling from her chest down and drives from cuffs around her wrists, likes to say that it is as though she is driving Shadow from her heart rather than her hands.

Stefanie has thrived through her involvement with carriage driving, winning the prestigious America Driving Society’s President’s Award in 2016 and is a spokesperson for United States Driving for the Disabled.

HOW TO VOTE:

  1. Click on https://www.usef.org/_IFrames/eoty/Default.aspx?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EOTY%20Voting%20Email%20(1)&utm_content=
  2. Enter EMAIL ADDRESS and CONTINUE.
  3. In the bottom left, select a FIRST CHOICE, then a second and third. Press SUBMIT.
  4. LOG ON TO YOUR EMAIL ID. See the email titled:  “USEF Equestrian of the Year Voting Verification.”  Click on the link labeled “PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR VOTE”.
  5. You will receive a message thanking you for verifying.

Thank you for your incredible support!

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org or contact USPEA President Hope Hand by e-mail: hope@uspea.org or by phone: (610)356-6481.

 

Seven Days of Olympia

The Olympia Grand Hall has closed its doors after another very successful week of world-class equestrian sport and international displays.

Over the seven days, 90,000 spectators took to their seats to enjoy Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and applaud memorable performances including the retirement of Charlotte Dujardin’s gold medal winning partner Valegro and a home victory for Scott Brash in the Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier presented by H&M. British Dressage’s own Superman, Carl Hester, did the double by claiming victories in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix and the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle, both supported by Horse & Hound, on the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, respectively. The FEI World Cup™ Carriage Driving supported by Dodson & Horrell was won by the Boyd Exell, who once again proved he is still very much at the top of his game.

Other highlights of the event included The Shetland Pony Grand National which raised a phenomenal £38,500 for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. The international displays of Santi Serra, which involved impressive stunts with dogs and horses, and Pride of Portugal, who dance on Lusitanos to Justin Bieber, both made their Olympia debuts and proved to be a real hit with the crowd.

The Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund created an electric atmosphere as the country’s top jockeys put their hand to show jumping on the Friday evening. A typically flamboyant display of riding from Frankie Dettori clinched victory for his team of flat jockeys.

For those unable to attend the Show, live coverage on the BBC, FEI TV and the Olympia website allowed them to enjoy the action from the comfort of their home.

Away from the arena spectators enjoyed a revamp of the shopping village, making it the place to go for last minute Christmas gifts for the whole family.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, commented, “This year’s Show was a tremendous success with so many highlights. Not only did we have superb competition in Dressage, Driving and Show Jumping, but the entertainment was particularly memorable, with some great acts and sporting legends gracing the arena throughout the week. In addition, the retirement of Valegro was a very special moment and it was great to be able to celebrate our achievements in Rio with a medal parade on the Friday evening.”

On Wednesday 14 December, Charlotte Dujardin and her champion companion Valegro performed their London 2012 Olympic gold medal winning routine in a ceremony prior to Valegro’s retirement from competition.

The sell-out crowd watched in awe as they performed their last dance together, with owner Carl Hester and groom Alan Davies celebrating the magnificent story of Valegro and Charlotte’s partnership, the duo exited the arena after an emotional and historical farewell.

Team GB’s Olympic medal winning partnership Carl Hester and Nip Tuck opened the show in style as they cruised to victory in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound, with Dutch Olympic team riders Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal in second and third.

Carl and Nip Tuck successfully defended their Olympia title on the following evening, with a win in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound, delighting the crowd with an effortless routine.

The packed house was thrilled by Scott Brash (GBR) and his ride, Hello M’Lady, as their performance in the Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier presented by H&M led them to snatch the victory. The celebrations were heightened as Ben Maher, the last Brit to win the class back in 2011, finished in second place.

“It’s great to perform in front of a home crowd,” said Scott after his victory. “The atmosphere was amazing the crowd really got behind us.”

With tense displays of Show Jumping throughout the week, the packed crowds were treated to world-class performances in the arena.  An impressive debut by Holly Smith and a brave round by Christopher Megahey in the Cayenne Puissance saw them both fly clearly over 7ft1in wall, resulting in them sharing the title.

On the final eve of the show, the Olympia Grand Prix was won in splendid style by Daniel Deusser, with Edwina Tops-Alexander finishing closely behind in second place, and Scott Brash in third.

Six time World Cup™ Driving champion Boyd Exell triumphed at Olympia to take the win in the final of the FEI World Cup™ Driving.

The skilled and tense final saw Exell’s performance followed closely by Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) and Koos de Ronde (NED).

“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.”

The Kennel Club’s four-legged friends returned to Olympia with a great display of dog action across the week. Results of the dog agility competitions are listed below:

– The Kennel Club ABC Dog Agility Final
Dave Leach and Jotunheim Giggles
– The Kennel Club Small Dog Agility Final
Charlotte Harding and AG CH Daimonic Expelliarmus
– The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals
Lee Windeatt and AG CH Darleyfalls Pipistrelle
– The Kennel Club Large Novice Dog Agility Finals
Lee Windeatt and Mendipstar Coy Oaty Snuggly
– The Kennel Club Medium Dog Agility Finals
Sian Illingworth and AG CH Arnpriors Made of Honour

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

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