Category Archives: Driving

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

Christmas Comes Early for Holly in the Cayenne Puissance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninth Victory for Boyd Exell in Geneva

Boyd Exell (FEI /Dirk Caremans)

Geneva (SUI), 11 December 2016 – In a thrilling competition in which Boyd Exell (AUS) was put under pressure by Georg von Stein (GER), Boyd put the accelerator on and claimed his 9th consecutive victory at the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Geneva. Von Stein finished in second place, while József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) picked up important World Cup points by finishing in third place.

Dutch level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs had laid out a nice and fluent course in the very large arena in Geneva, where the beautiful water splash and the hill always ensure spectacular images. The Ground Jury included a former fellow four-in-hand driver; Swiss level 2 Driving Judge Daniel Würgler, who won the inaugural edition of the CAI-W Geneva in 2002.

The second round took place over an altered course and the drivers started from scratch. Dobrovitz jr. was first to go, but he lost precious seconds: “I wanted to go fast to put the pressure on, but in the second marathon obstacle I turned too slow and I lost time. I wanted to go even faster to make up for it and I turned onto the bridge too fast, so I had a knock down. I became a little tired and lost concentration, which caused another two balls to fall. But I am very happy with my top three place!”

Next driver in the arena, Georg von Stein, put the pressure on Boyd by driving a fast and clear round. The reigning German Champion finished third in Stuttgart where he competed with a wild card and now took home his first World Cup points of this season: “I have a very fast team; especially on the long lines, I can make up a lot of time. I have watched the videos of the first competition and I learnt that my turns in the obstacles cost much time, so I know what I have to work on.”

The many enthusiastic spectators in the Palexpo arena held their breath when last starter Boyd Exell had one knock down, but the four-times World Champion passed the finish line 10 seconds faster than Von Stein and secured his 9th win in Geneva since he first won in 2008: “I have been helping Georg lately to make his team better, so on the one hand I was pleased for him, but on the other hand I really felt the pressure. At the split time I was four seconds up, but then I had that ball, which was really a driver mistake. I turned my wheeler horse too fast into the obstacle. But I made up time in that very same obstacle and in the last part of the course.”

Home driver Jérôme Voutaz finished in fourth place with his team of fast turning Freiberger horses, ahead of József Dobrovitz (HUN) and wild card drivers Benjamin Aillaud (FRA), driving a team of beautiful Lusitano’s and Werner Ulrich (SUI). For Ulrich, Geneva was his last competition as four-in-hand driver. The 57-year-old very successful Swiss competitor retires from the four-in-hand sport, but will continue as a pair driver and trainer.

For the complete results, click here.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in London Olympia will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Saturday, 17 December at 17.30 hrs. CET (local time in Switzerland, GMT+1 hour).

For information on London Olympia, go to www.olympiahorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Jo Peck, jopeck@hpower.co.uk, + 44 1753 847 900.

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

By Cindy Timmer

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

At Geneva:
Corinne Druey
druey@syntagme-lausanne.ch
+41 21 312 82 22

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

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

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

SHOWJUMPING

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

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

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

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

DRESSAGE

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

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

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

CARRIAGE DRIVING

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

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

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

Superb Start for Koos de Ronde in Budapest

Koos de Ronde (FEI/Krisztina Hajdu)

Budapest (HUN), 4 December 2016 – Dutch four-in-hand driver Koos de Ronde experienced a superb start of his FEI World Cup™ Driving season in Budapest. The bronze medallist of the World Championships in Breda set the fastest times in the third leg of this season’s series and won the competition with seven seconds advantage to home driver József Dobrovitz and Belgium’s Edouard Simonet.

After one year of absence, the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg in Budapest joined the series again, much to the joy of the Hungarian driving fans, who attended the exciting competition in the Lászlo Papp arena. This year, the programme existed of a show of the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna, followed by the FEI World Cup™ Driving class. The spectators were treated to a great competition where the six drivers battled it out in the course, laid out by Hungarian top course designer Gábor Fintha.

Koos de Ronde had an advantage of six seconds going into the second round, which took place over the same course. Despite the heavy footing, his experienced team of mixed bay horses went even faster and was eight seconds faster than József Dobrovitz in the end: “This is the best thing about the sport. Dobrovitz drove a very good round and I had to try to top this. I knew that if I had one knock down, I could lose my advantage, so I really went for it!” De Ronde’s plan is to pick up World Cup points as well in London Olympia and try some new wheeler horses in Mechelen (BEL) where he will compete with a wild card.

József Dobrovitz, who lives around the corner from Budapest in Vecsés, used two new horses in his team, but this didn’t keep him from driving some excellent clear rounds: “I used a new horse in the right lead which I’ve only had for four days, and has never been to a competition before,” laughed Dobrovitz. “And also a new horse in the right wheel, but this one has been in a pair before.” The member of the silver team in Breda went even faster in the second round and put some extra pressure on De Ronde: “I wanted to go faster, but I also needed to keep concentrating, especially with these two new horses. It worked out very well for me and I am very pleased that I have taken the decision to use them.”

Edouard Simonet’s tactics were to improve as much as he could, compared to the first competition, and he succeeded very well. In the first round, he drove very nice and fast, staying close to the obstacles. A wider turn going into the last phase of the competition didn’t prevent him from qualifying for the second round. After he knocked the first cone down, two other balls fell in the second marathon obstacle, dropping him to third place: “I tried to go a bit faster in the second round. I really went for it. But the horses were more tired and they felt less even.”

József Dobrovitz jr. drove clear, but was just a few seconds too slow to qualify for the second round. He finished in fourth place, followed by Rainer Duen (GER), who had one knock down. Wild card driver Miklos Juhász finished in sixth place.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Geneva will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Sunday, 11 December at 13.00 hrs. CET (local time in Switzerland, GMT+1 hour).

For information on Geneva, go to www.chi-geneve.ch or contact Press Officer Corinne Druey, druey@syntagme-lausanne.ch, +41 21 312 82 22.

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 Budapest:
Ezster Kovács
lovasvk@gmail.com
+36 70 366 6494

Boyd Exell Class of His Own

Boyd Exell (AUS) (FEI /Roland Thunholm)

Stockholm (SWE), 27 November 2016 – Boyd Exell (AUS) has proved once again to be in a class of his own in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Stockholm. The six times FEI World Cup™ Champion went into the second round with over 19 seconds advantage to József Dobrovitz (HUN) and passed the finish line with an even larger advantage to his Hungarian fellow competitor. József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) finished on a humble third place, only 1,5 seconds behind his father.

After his disappointing performance during the first competition on Friday evening, World Cup debutant Edouard Simonet (BEL) drove a very secure and safe round, only picking up a ball in the corner at the tricky 9th gate. Simonet finished in the fourth place, ahead of wild card driver Fredrik Persson (SWE). The home driver had to use his spare horse, which on Friday was not focussed at the right time. The horse insurance salesman hit one ball too many to qualify for the second round, which took place over a shortened course. Germany’s Rainer Duen picked up three balls and was placed sixth in his second World Cup competition of this season.

The enthusiastic spectators in the Friends arena cheered the six drivers in the technical course, laid out by Sweden’s level 3 Course Designer Dan Henriksson. Both rounds times were added together, but this didn’t affect Exell’s tactics. The Netherlands-based driver was the only one who drove a clear round and the one knock down in the second round did not endanger his leading position at all: “My horses were very excited when they came from the warm up arena into the main arena. I tried to slow them down, but they wouldn’t let me, so I just went very fast. In the second round again, their rhythm was excellent and I decided to go with the team. If I try to slow them down, I make mistakes. Compared to Stuttgart, I had my concentration back again because my father is back home after an operation.”

József Dobrovitz started his World Cup season in Stockholm, a show that he likes very much: “I was very pleased with my horses, but I made a mistake myself. I missed a gate in the first marathon obstacle, which cost me much time.” Dobrovitz then didn’t want to concentrate too much on gate 9 and knocked this one over, as well as a ball in the linear obstacle.

Dobrovitz’ son József Dobrovitz jr. also started his season in the Friends Arena, where he had to drive with an alternative set of leader horses after his experienced horse Cselentano was declared unfit to compete in the first horse inspection. The spare horse that he used had never experienced an indoor show before, but junior found the right pace and qualified for the second round. Unfortunately his reins went around his fingers in the second marathon obstacle and later on his whip got caught in the harness, which caused one ball to drop: “My horses were very good today; the leaders really started to get together. We compete in Budapest next week and I am not sure that I want to change again!”

Results in detail can be viewed here.

For information on Budapest, go to http://lovasshow.hu/ or contact Press Officer Ezster Kovács, lovasvk@gmail.com, +36 70 366 6494.

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 Stockholm:
Lotta Amnestal
Lotta.Amnestal@ridsport.se
+ 46 709 79 56 35