Category Archives: Show Jumping

Double Delight for Harry Charles at London International Horse Show

It was an action-packed final day of The London International Horse Show. The prestigious London Grand Prix provided a fitting conclusion to the five-day event, with Harry Charles taking the spoils. His victory sealed his status as the Leading Rider of the Show. The world’s best riders were also in action in The Mistletoe Speed Stakes, which was won by Edouard Schmitz.

Great Britain’s top young riders battled it out in The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship, with reigning champion Jodie Hall McAteer reclaiming her title. The junior riders also came to the fore in The GS Equestrian Pony Club Mini-Major, won by Cliodhna McEvoy paired with Laura Renwick.

The BSPS Ridden Mountain & Moorland Championship sponsored by LeMieux was won by Welsh Section C, Lynuck the Showman, ridden by Rebecca Penny and owned and bred by Lynn Scott. It was a well-deserved victory for one of the most consistent combinations on the circuit, who have been in the top 10 at the London International Horse Show for the past four years.

HARRY CHARLES DOES THE DOUBLE

The London Grand Prix provided a spectacular finale to the 2021 Show. A challenging course designed by Guillherme Jorge left no room for error, demanding precision and power to achieve the all-important clear round required to progress to the jump-off.

Nine combinations made it through to contest the second round against the clock. In-form Harry Charles made a very good start aboard the 15-year-old Borsato to put the pressure on, with a clear in the time of 33.53, going one step closer to emulating his father’s 1993 victory in this class. France’s Edward Levy followed and put in a valiant effort, although not quite matching Charles’ pace.

FEI Jumping World Cup runner-up Harrie Smolders was the next to jump a clear, although again not able to match the level set by Charles. Even Olympic champion Ben Maher had to settle for second place, despite pulling out all the stops in a round which will have had Charles worried. In victory, Charles becomes the first rider to do the London leg of the FEI Jumping World Cup and the London Grand Prix double since Robert Smith in 2005.

An elated Charles said: “Weekends don’t get better than this. I’ll probably never have another weekend like it in my life! Thank you everyone for putting on such an amazing show; it’s my first time here and I can’t wait to come back. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d done enough. The guys behind me are all so quick. I just did all could and I’m absolutely ecstatic.”

Charles went on to praise the jubilant home supporters: “The crowd make this show what it is, so I would like to thank everyone for supporting all of us this week.”

The Voltaire Design Under 25 Championship featured the top 10 riders from the morning’s qualifier, which was won by defending champion, Jodie Hall McAteer, riding Mademoiselle A.

The first of five to go through to the second round was Robert Murphy, carrying four faults from the first round; however, with only two first round clears, all was still to play for. Murphy put in a solid performance to stay on four faults, posting a time to beat of 28.74 seconds, good enough for eventual third. Joe Stockdale produced the first double clear to move into pole position, but with a relatively conservative time, the door was left open to Hall McAteer as the final rider to go. With a gallop down to the last, Hall McAteer made up time on her rival to take her second win of the day and reclaim the title she also won at the 2019 Show.

The 21-year-old said: “I’ve been very fortunate to have had the year I’ve had; I’ve got an amazing team of horses and people around me so it’s really special to come here and end the year in this way. There’s nothing better than coming here with the amazing crowd and atmosphere; this is what we work every day for, so I’m very happy to be here and in this position.”

The GS Equestrian Pony Club Mini-Major, a pairs relay whereby the world’s best international Show Jumpers team up with young Pony Club riders, had the crowd on the edge of their seats. The format saw the international riders jump an untimed first phase before handing over to their junior counterparts for a second section against the clock.

First to go, France’s Daniel Delsart, paired with Martha Cussins, set a good standard, jumping double clear with a second phase time of 22.33 seconds. Laura Renwick, a previous winner of this class, this year paired with Cliodhna McEvoy, completed her role successfully, jumping clear in the first phase. McEvoy took over the baton, setting off like a rocket and making impossibly tight turns to make up almost two seconds and set a new target of 20.58 seconds.

Cate Kerr, from the Newmarket and Thurlow Pony Club, already a winner at The London International Horse Show this week, was paired with William Funnell, as the last to go, but despite a great round by both partners, Kerr’s time of 22.40 seconds was only good enough for third place.

After the class, Renwick said: I was gob smacked with their performance. I did my round, which was very pressurized as I couldn’t have a pole down, and obviously I didn’t want to let Cliodhna down. Then I stopped and did a nice circle before she started, and then when she started, I think my jaw dropped; it was incredible. The atmosphere, the angles, the speed, the accuracy – I was really surprised and impressed.”

The Mistletoe Speed Stakes was an adrenaline-filled test of speed, with three seconds added for every fence knocked down. Renwick was looking to make it a double for the afternoon and came out first to go meaning business; however, a fence down added three seconds to her otherwise fast round to put her out of contention.

Shane Breen put in a brilliant performance to set the early pace aboard Cuick Star Kervec and he held the lead for the majority of the class. With just four to go, home favourite John Whitaker – in his 49th year competing at The London International Horse Show – showed why he was still at the top of the sport, with a majestic performance aboard Green Grass, the horse he rode to victory earlier in the week, to take over at the top of the leaderboard much to the crowd’s delight. However, it was Switzerland’s Edouard Schmitz, as the penultimate rider to go riding Balenciana K, who clinched the victory from Whitaker, who at the age of 66 is 44 years Schmitz’s senior.

“I have really enjoyed the Show,” said Schmitz, “especially now having a result like this. The crowd has been amazing, the classes have been super; it’s been top sport; you can only be happy. I saw John’s round and I thought it would be very hard to beat, but I think I was very fast from fence two to three and my horse in generally a bit faster than John’s; however, I do feel a bit guilty about beating him in London!”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Great Britain Reigns Supreme on Day Four of London International Horse Show

The penultimate day of The London International Horse Show showcased the next generation of Show Jumping talent. An incredible ride in the afternoon performance saw British young rider, Harry Charles, win The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup exactly 20 years after his father won the same class, with a spectacular display of horsemanship aboard the relatively inexperienced mare Stardust.

The country’s best ponies were in action in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes (128cm) and The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes (148cm), with the evening performance brought to a close with The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes, won by Scott Brash.

Elsewhere, The Kennel Club Intermediate Agility Stakes Finals was won by Leslie Olden with Nedlo’s Girl in a Whirl. Freddie Keighley rode Brewards Kerwen to victory in the evening edition of The Shetland Pony Grand National and received his award from Rory Bremner, while performances by Santi Serra and The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment added to the day’s action from ExCeL London.

BRILLIANT BRASH BRINGS IT HOME

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was run under a unique format whereby the 25 competitors were drawn into six groups. The winner of each group, based on faults and time, went through to a final jump-off, accompanied by the two fastest losers across all groups.

As the only clears in Group 1 and 2, Ireland’s Denis Lynch and in-form Harry Charles won the first automatic qualification places to the jump-off. The Irishman Shane Breen was the next to join them, winning Group 3 outright, again as the only clear. Group 4 was a close affair, with Angelie von Essen, Gregory Wathelet, and Kevin Staut all jumping clear within 0.4 seconds of each other. However, Sweden’s von Essen won the battle for automatic qualification, with Wathelet going through as one of the fastest losers.

Group 5 saw compatriots Scott Brash and Guy Williams pitted together, both pulling out excellent performances to jump fast clear rounds; however, it was Brash who came out on top to go straight through to the jump-off. Williams’ time was quick enough to secure a place as a fastest loser. Great Britain’s Matthew Sampson took the final automatic place, winning Group 6.

As first to go in the jump-off, Breen set the standard with a clear in an impressive time of 40.13 seconds. Wathelet and von Essen followed, both incurring faults trying to catch Breen’s target Sampson came out meaning business, absolutely flying round the course to take over pole position.

Sampson’s lead did not last long, as Harry Charles, fresh from victory in The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, followed him into the arena and put on a foot perfect performance to go into first place. The lead changed once again as last to go, Scott Brash, pulled off an exceptionally tight turn to the vertical at number four and a frantic charge to the last, and shaved 0.14 seconds of Charles’ time to take his inaugural victory at this year’s London International Horse Show.

Speaking of his victory aboard Lady Harris & Lady Kirkham’s Hello Mr President, Brash said: “Hello Mr President is a very fast horse, which makes my life a bit easier. Harry has won enough today; he needs to give the old ones a chance again! The crowd is what makes this show, and they were absolutely fantastic again tonight. The organisers have done a brilliant job; we jump all around the world, all year round, so to finish off in London with your home crowd, to get a win, is extra special.”

The 128cm ponies had the crowd behind them in The Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes, as one after the other they put their foot to the boards in a scintillating display of speed and agility. Five combinations went through to the jump-off, but it was Cate Kerr riding Dunbarover who came out on top, 0.33 faster than Hollie Gerken with Black Jack III in second.

The ecstatic 12-year-old exclaimed: “It’s amazing; to win here is like a dream. I knew that everyone wanted to win, but I just wanted to win a bit more! My pony is just amazing; the jump-off course suited him quite well, so I just went for it. This is the best Christmas present I could ever have.”

Later in the day, their 148cm counterparts took centre stage in The Voltaire Design Mini Stakes. Nine of the 13 starters made it through to the jump-off, setting up for an entertaining show down. Of the three double clears, Noora von Bulow riding Elando van de Roshoeve came out on top with an exceptional round in the time of 24.89 seconds, ahead of Phoebe Farman in second and Lauren Caroline back in third. The win capped off an exceptional year for 13-year-old von Bulow, who also won the Children’s Grand Prix at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Finals show in Kronenberg, The Netherlands earlier this year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Harry Charles Brings a Sprinkling of Stardust to London International Horse Show

The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup brought top-class sport to ExCeL London as the world’s best equestrian athletes battled it out for the prestigious title. The testing 1.60m course set by Brazilian course designer Guilherme Gorge saw 11 combinations master the first round without fault. The first to achieve this feat, Ireland’s Anthony Condon riding SFS Vincomte, got the jump-off underway, incurring four faults coming out of the double at fence eight. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker followed Condon into the arena, suffering the same fate.

Ireland’s Michael Duffy was the first to produce a clear over the shortened course, which featured nine jumping efforts, setting a time to beat of 39.38 seconds. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen put in a brilliant effort to take the lead; however, it was short lived, as he was followed into the arena by the legendary John Whitaker, who went into pole position at the halfway point.

Former World No. 1, Harrie Smolders, survived a tricky moment at the first, before upping the ante to provide a new target to beat of 36.77. Great Britain’s Olympic champion, Ben Maher, put in a valiant effort but could not match the pace of Smolders, finishing in eventual fifth.

With three to go, Great Britain’s Harry Charles, full of confidence following a win earlier in the week, took over the lead to the delight of the sell-out crowd, shaving 0.86 seconds off Smolders’ time. The 22-year-old had a nail-biting wait for the final two, which included the in-form Martin Fuchs, but his round aboard the 11-year-old mare, Stardust, proved unbeatable, giving Charles the victory exactly 20 years after his father won the same competition.

An emotional Charles said: “It’s the best feeling. I’ve been coming here for years; this is one that I, and everyone, wants to win. I can’t really tell you how it feels. It’s my career highlight. We are thrilled with the horse; the whole team has made an incredible effect to get us to this point; it is the best feeling ever. The atmosphere was incredible; to have all the people here behind me was incredible. I don’t normally throw my hand up like that but it all just got to me, the crowd and everything. It’s mad – the new place, the big crowd. I think the world of my horse; she’s amazing and I think she could be everything. She is so inexperienced at this level, but she has such a quick turn of foot – she has everything I want from in a horse. Where she came from at the start of the year to now is a dream come true!”

Runner-up, Harrie Smolders, added: “It’s always a pleasure to come back to London; it’s an amazing atmosphere here. We saw spectacular sport today and having such a brilliant audience makes our achievements greater. I don’t know what happened at the first. I think I had the right distance, but the fence was in the wrong place! I didn’t have the smoothest start, but I am still very pleased and I can’t complain about the outcome. Congratulations to Harry – I think it’s just the start of Harry Charles with the World Cup here; we are going to see a lot more of him in the future. Well done to John too; there’s a little bit of difference in age, but he’s still at the top level and at the top of his game.”

Third-placed Whitaker, who first competed at The London International Horse Show in 1972, said: “Unick du Francport jumped great; the course went to plan, how I decided to ride it. I was a little bit careful at the green double which caused a few problems, but I think I just need more experience to beat these guys! This show is a level above all others; this is the class to win, especially for us British riders, and for one tiny second, I thought I might do it! The new facilities here are very, very good: impossible to fault.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

The World’s Best in Action on Day Three of The London International Horse Show

Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 individual gold medalists Ben Maher and Explosion W took centre stage in a dedicated celebration of his Olympic success. With the crowd on its feet, the pair left the arena to Alesso’s Heroes, a fitting tribute to their outstanding achievement.

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International came to a thrilling conclusion with World No. 1 Boyd Exell coming out on top once again.

It was a busy day for the Show Jumpers, opening with The LeMieux Six Bar, which was shared between Alfie Bradstock and Max Kühner, who both produced faultless performances across the five rounds. World No. 4, Martin Fuchs, made it a London International Horse Show 2021 treble in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes, with The Longines Christmas Cracker going to XX.

Other notable highlights include wins for Jessica Clarehugh with Avonwolf Beanies Dizzy Dora in The Kennel Club Dog Agility Stakes Finals, and Robert Murphy receiving the Ella Popely Award, presented each year in recognition of the rider between the ages of 18 and 25 who has shown the qualities of being a true sportsman or woman: representing the sport well, acting as a team player, and encouraging others to excel.

EXCELLENT EXELL STRIKES AGAIN

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International saw the top three Drivers go through to a drive-off which had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Germany’s Mareike Harm set the pace with an accurate round, finishing with clear in a time of 143.70. Koos De Ronde from The Netherlands was second in and put in an impressive performance to cross the line in 137.25 seconds; however, with four penalties to add, his score of 141.25 left the window open for last to go, Boyd Exell. The Australian was down on the time in the first half; however, a spectacular second section saw him make up over three seconds with no penalties to add, to win by a wide margin.

Exell said: “This is such a fabulous arena; the sound system is great, the crowd sound even clearer, and they are really with you for every turn. We had a change from yesterday; we were resting one of the wheelers as he had done three shows in a row. It was a tactic because we are wildcards. Annabel and Simon Brooks-Ward invited me to be here, so it’s a chance to do well but also to try some different things and it worked out today.”

Great Britain’s Daniel Naprous added: “I just want to say thank you to The London International Horse Show for being brave enough to put on the event and give us somewhere incredible to compete at. The atmosphere has been amazing tonight and I am so grateful to be here.”

JACK’S THE KING OF THE PACK

Nine combinations went through to the jump-off of The Longines Christmas Cracker. Eager to set an unattainable target, the first four to go against the clock all picked up penalties en route. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker was the first to post a clear, jumping a smooth but relatively conservative round aboard Valmy de la Lande to ensure his place in the prizes. With those who followed also accumulating faults in their attempts to increase the pace, Finland’s Noora Forsten was rewarded for her tactics in jumping a steady clear round, finishing in second, with Harry Charles back in third, the fastest of the four faulters.

A delighted Whitaker said: “It’s difficult to put into words to be honest. I’ve been wanting to compete here since I was a little kid. I’ve been coming to this show for as long as I can remember; it’s what I’ve always dreamed of and I got lucky tonight. It wasn’t a great jump-off course for me tonight, and so when I saw the ones ahead of me knocking jumps down, I thought I might get away with just jumping a nice clear, and I did.”

The world’s best Show Jumpers battled it out in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes. The top 10 from the first round went through to the jump-off, carrying forward any penalties incurred. The first to secure the coveted first double clear, Austria’s Max Kühner, set the pace of 39.28 seconds; however, Martin Fuchs, already a double winner at the Show this week, pulled out all the stops to take the lead with an impressive time of 36.20 aboard Tam Tam du Valon.

The Swiss World No. 4 was looking hard to beat. Dutchman Harrie Smolders came close with a beautifully smooth round in a time of 37.72, as did Germany’s Christian Ahlmann; their efforts were only good enough for third and second place, respectively, leaving Fuchs with his third London International Horse Show 2021 victory.

The Lemieux Six Bar provided top-class entertainment. 13 starters lined up to face the six-obstacle course, run over a knock-out format, whereby those jumping clear in the first rounds went through to face the increasingly imposing course. Just two combinations made it to the fifth round, with the final fence standing at an incredible 1.90m – Austria’s Max Kühner riding EIC Coriolis des Isles and Great Britain’s Aflie Bradstock aboard H. d’Or.

Up first, Kühner put on a foot perfect performance to secure his place at the top of the leaderboard and placing the pressure on Bradstock. The Brit rose to the occasion with a fine display of athleticism to match Kühner’s feat and share the honours, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Celebrating his first London International Horse Show victory, Bradstock said: “It’s amazing just to even compete here, and to win something is a real dream come true. This horse is a Puissance specialist, and the Six Bar was a something extra that we thought we may as well give a go while we’re here. I never expected him to do that, but with the support of the audience he just got better and better. The crowd was fantastic; to have the home crowd cheering like that was unbelievable.”

Kühner added: “I’m really enjoying the Show; it’s fantastic because the crowd is still the same; they give us such a boost; it almost feels like we have wings. The London crowd really is stunning;S it was really special. My horse is only nine, but he is incredibly talented already, and has achieved a lot this year. He’s done a great job today and I have a good feeling about tomorrow too.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Dujardin Delivers Sensational Double in London

It was an action packed second day of The London International Horse Show at ExCeL London. In addition to spectacular international competition in three FEI disciplines, Driving, Dressage, and Jumping, the Show hosted a dedicated Medal Parade to celebrate the achievements of the equestrian Team GB athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games and European Championships.

Additional achievements were acknowledged across the course of the day, with the British Equestrian Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Carl Hester and British Dressage International Champions Trophy awarded to Charlotte Dujardin and her Tokyo 2020 Olympic mount Gio, as the highest placed British combination at this year’s championships.

The Services Jumping Championship was won by Sgt Charlotte Lee from the Police, riding Bermudez BDA, the only competitor to jump clear in the second round, with Dawn Weaver’s Ag Ch Galaxy’s Dream Summer winning the Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes Final.

DUJARDIN MAKES IT A DOUBLE

The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse and Hound took centre stage for the evening performance. Great Britain’s Lara Butler set the standard in the first half of the field, producing a solid score of 76.305%. Butler, riding Kristjan, performed a well-executed test, including impeccable flying changes and piaffes, to music which had the crowd clapping along as she completed.

Germany’s Frederic Wandres, runner-up in last night’s FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, riding Duke of Britain FRH was the first to mount a challenge to Butler’s lead. Wandres demonstrated the qualities which have contributed to him being the current leader of the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League to post an outstanding score of 80.260%.

British Tokyo 2020 team bronze medalist Lottie Fry capped a fantastic year, posting an outstanding score of 81.945 to take over the lead. Riding the 13-year-old gelding, Dark Legend, Fry started strongly with a piaffe passage and despite scoring slightly lower in the middle section, finished well to put the pressure on the final two riders.

Last to go, Charlotte Dujardin, is not one to shy away from pressure, and once again proved why she is Great Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian. Aboard Gio, her Tokyo mount, Dujardin rode her Olympic Freestyle test for just the third time, demonstrating quality in abundance, with each movement perfectly in time to the music. She was rewarded by a phenomenal score of 89.040 to take her fifth London International Horse Show FEI World Cup Freestyle victory, with teammate Fry in second and Wandres in third.

Watching from the crowd, mentor and British teammate, Carl Hester, said: “It’s an amazing score and he’s an amazing horse who gives his all; they thoroughly deserve it. The programme is extremely difficult as you could see. It’s a little bit disturbing when you watch somebody so good and a horse that’s so good that you don’t realise how difficult the movements that she’s doing are, because she spins together these incredible movements and the horse just responds so beautifully, so I’m not surprised at the score.”

Dujardin added: “I’ve just finished off the most incredible year in the best way possible. He truly is a very special horse; his very first Olympics, his very first Europeans, and now he’s just finished the year off winning the World Cup here at The London International Horse Show – what a legend. There’s nothing like riding in front of your home crowd, having them cheering you on. I’ve really missed everyone and I would like to thank everyone for coming and supporting.”

EXELL EXCELS AT THE EXCEL

The first leg of the FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International was won by Boyd Exell, a regular winner here in London. The Australian’s masterful display of horsemanship was over seven seconds fast than the runner-up, Koos de Ronde from The Netherlands, in the drive-off, with Dries Degrieck back in third.

The five-time World Four-in-Hand champion and nine-time FEI World Cup Driving Champion was already looking forward to the final leg: “Statistically, Koos [De Ronde] and Ijsbrand [Chardon] are the biggest threats. Ijsbrand was a little bit off the pace today; however, previously he’s been off the pace the first day and much better the second, and often can win the final, so he’s definitely one to watch out for. He does have a little bit more to do than usual, but tomorrow is another day, so let’s wait and see.”

Exell continued, “This new venue is amazing; it’s brilliant for the horses. There’s loads of space, brand new stables, everything for us as competitors is fantastic. Obviously, the Olympia building in the evenings was a lovely setting, but as a sport, we have to evolve and progress, and this facility has the opportunity to do that.”

GREAT BRITAIN DOMINATES ON DAY TWO

The opening CSI5* contest of the day was a two-phase competition whereby all those clear over the first seven fences went on to the second phase against the clock. The first to mount a challenge, Great Britain’s John Whitaker, a legend of the sport, laid down the gauntlet as fifth to go, riding Green Grass. The 66-year-old demonstrated why he is still at the top of the sport, with an extremely tight and fast second phase, jumping clear in 27.16 seconds. Those who followed failed to match Whitaker. Compatriot Sameh El Dahan aboard WKD Toronto came close, posting a time of 28.41 seconds to go into second, and Frenchman Mathieu Billot, as last to go, looked to put Whitaker’s lead under threat, but could only manage enough for third.

The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes was awarded to Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Harry Charles, riding Borsato. 10 combinations went forward to the jump-off, with Great Britain’s talented young rider Jack Whitaker paving the way. Whitaker meant business from the start, jumping an impressive clear in a time of 35.98 seconds to set the standard. Germany’s Marcus Ehning survived a rub at the penultimate fence to take over pole position at the midway point, shaving 0.83 seconds off Whitaker’s time; however, it was Harry Charles who had the crowd on its feet as he made all the moves to take the lead with just three to go. Charles’ target of 34.07 seconds proved impossible to beat, as those who followed, including dual winner Martin Fuchs, incurred penalties in their attempts to match the pace required.

A delighted Charles said: “I was actually quite shocked when I finished, as I didn’t realise I was that much quicker than him [Marcus Ehning]. It’s not every day you can be that much quicker than Marcus. I thought the jump-off went quite well; in places I thought I was a little bit unsteady, but it all worked out in the end and I’m absolutely delighted.”

EQUESTRIAN TEAM GBR MEDAL PARADE

Ben Maher MBE and his Olympic gold medal-winning partner, Explosion W, led the celebratory medal parade featuring many of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic equestrian heroes. The parade provided fans with an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional performances from the summer, which also included a successful European Championships and Driving World Championship for Ponies. The medalists were joined in the arena by their owners and grooms, all pivotal to the successes achieved over the course of the year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Mr Blue Sky UK Shines on a New Era for London International Horse Show

Charlotte Dujardin started the 2021 edition of The London International Horse Show in style, with victory in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix aboard her Olympic double bronze medal-winning ride, Gio. The Afternoon Performance saw an increase in pace, with the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett won by Jerome Voutaz, and the first CSI5* Show Jumping competition of the Show – The Santa Stakes – which saw World No. 4 Martin Fuchs take the spoils.

The famous Puissance wall took centre stage at ExCeL London for the Evening Performance, with Guy Williams jumping 2.10m to win. There was a second victory for Fuchs in The Christmas Pudding Stakes. In addition to the return of annual favourites The Shetland Pony Grand National and the Kennel Club Dog Agility, there were performances by The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, horse whisperer Santi Serra, and the presentation of the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy to talented young rider Lottie Fry.

CHARLOTTE SHINES IN LONDON

Great Britain’s Gareth Hughes took an early lead in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, scoring 69.605 in the new shortened test. Compatriot Richard Davison was the first to surpass the 70% mark, scoring 71.526% aboard his 15-year-old homebred gelding Bubblingh. However, his lead was short-lived, as he was followed into the arena by Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian, Charlotte Dujardin. Dujardin, riding her 2020 Tokyo Olympic mount, Gio, set the arena alight, trending at over 80% for much of the test and setting a new personal best score of 82.553%.

Dujardin’s Tokyo Olympic teammate, Lottie Fry, riding her 2019 European Championship partner, was the next to pose a challenge. However, a score of 74.52% – which went into second place at the time – was only good enough for eventual fourth in such hot competition. The final two to go, Nanna Skodborg Merrald from Denmark and Frederic Wandres from Germany, came closest to Dujardin’s outstanding mark to finish third and second, respectively.

“I was absolutely over the moon with Gio today,” said Dujardin. “This is his first indoor show; he has only really done the Olympics and Europeans this year, so he had to up his game very quickly to go into that huge indoor arena. He took it in his stride; he went out there and did the test. I didn’t feel like I had to hold his hand through it at all. He really delivered, which made me unbelievably happy. “

FUCHS ON FLYING FORM

The CSI5* Show Jumping got underway with The Santa Stakes, a 1.50m jump-off class, which was won by World No. 4, Martin Fuchs from Switzerland, riding The Sinner. The combination picked up where they left off at the Show, returning to London following their win in the FEI Jumping World Cup in 2019.

12 combinations made it through with a clear first round, setting up for a scintillating jump-off against the clock, and in the end just 0.11 seconds separated the top three. Germany’s Christian Ahlmann took an early lead, setting an impressive target for those who followed; however, Fuchs, full of confidence following victory in the Grand Prix at CHI Geneva last weekend, put on a masterful display to take the lead at the midway point. With just three remaining, Max Kühner gave his all to put Fuchs’ lead in jeopardy, but his time of 32.93 was 0.09 seconds slower, going into second place, with Ahlmann in eventual third.

Fuchs commented: “This is a perfect start to the London International Horse Show with a win in the big class. The Sinner loves to come to London and really enjoys this Show; when he went in the ring, I could feel he wanted to do his best and he loves performing here, and so do I!”

Fuchs’ winning streak continued as he made it two from two on the opening day of the Show with victory in The Christmas Pudding Speed Stakes. Drawn fourth of 34 starters, Fuchs laid down the gauntlet, making all the turns and keeping his foot on the gas throughout to post a time to beat of 53.34 seconds. Those who followed were unable to match his pace and accuracy. Great Britain’s Guy Williams, notorious for his speed against the clock, put in a valiant effort to post a time of 54.82, finishing fourth, and France’s Olivier Robert also came close with a time of 54.48. Last to go, Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Champion Ben Maher had the sell-out crowd on their feet with an explosive gallop to the last, but despite his best efforts, he could only go into second.

Speaking after the class, Fuchs said: “I knew my horse would be very fast, so I thought I would give it go and try to put as much pressure on the rest of riders as possible. It was very tight at the end as Ben was quick, but I was happy to stay on top. The atmosphere here is amazing; performing in front a full crowd is so cool and the facilities here are amazing for the horses. I am really enjoying the Show so far.”

The LeMieux Puissance provided a fitting conclusion to the opening day of the Show. The famous red wall was raised to 2.10m in the fourth round, a height that could only be cleared by Guy Williams riding Mr Blue Sky UK. The combination, who were joint winners of the same class at the 2018 Show, was up against three other challengers in the fourth round, but Williams and Mr Blue Sky UK – who have an exceptional Puissance record – came out on top as the only pair to jump the wall without fault. Equal second was shared between French riders Mathieu Billot and Daniel Delsart, who both finished on four faults in the fourth round.

A delighted Williams said: “He jumped so well tonight; he is such a good Puissance horse and so reliable. I know him really well – I have had him since he was four, so it is great to win here again with him. The atmosphere was so good in the arena. I could hear people cheering for us, but I was trying to focus on my job and what was in front of us. My plan is to jump him in the FEI Jumping World Cup™ on Sunday as he’s feeling good, but will see how we go over the next couple of days.”

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Schulze Topphoff Takes La Coruña by Storm

Philipp Schulze Topphoff and Concordess NRW. (FEI/Manuel Queimadelos)

On his World Cup debut, 23-year-old German Philipp Schulze Topphoff breezed to victory with a stunning performance from his 11-year-old mare Concordess NRW in La Coruña, Spain. This fifth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League was no walk in the park, and only seven of the 39 horse-and-rider combinations found the key to the first-round track set by Tokyo 2020 Olympic course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela.

But with all the confidence that goes with youth, and supported by his brilliant grey mare who was clearly unfazed by the task set for her, Schulze Topphoff produced a foot-perfect run when first to go in the opening round and didn’t flinch when pathfinder against the clock to set a target that couldn’t be bettered.

“This is definitely the biggest win I’ve ever had, and I don’t know what to say except I’m really, really happy!” said the young man who has now firmly put himself on the map.

Runner-up spot went to the French partnership of Gregory Cottard and Bibici, while Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson-Zanotelli lined up in third ahead of the Ireland’s Mikey Pender and HHS Calais in fourth place.

Curiosity

When the first horse goes clear in any competition, there is always a curiosity about whether the track will jump easily, but this was a perfect example of the opposite. Varela’s test demanded a lot of stride adjustments, and the last three fences on the 13-obstacle first-round course were the undoing of many.

There was little room for error of line on the tight left-hand turn off the side of the arena to the oxer at fence eleven, and many riders had to increase acceleration on the approach to make it work. Subsequently, the following vertical with a delicate white plank on top, jumped off a curving right-hand bend, often came up awkwardly, and if balance wasn’t quickly re-established then the final oxer was the heart-breaker as it hit the floor.

That plank proved the undoing of Schulze Topphoff’s compatriot and three-time Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion Marcus Ehning, whose lovely stallion, Stargold, clipped it in an otherwise perfect round. The Dutch partnership who came out on top at the last fixture at the Casas Novas Equestrian Centre in La Coruña two years ago, Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z, who together clinched individual bronze in Tokyo this summer, looked well on the way to a place in the jump-off until coming adrift over those final two fences.

Just two riders picked up a single time fault in an otherwise faultless round, and the first of these was Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts who retired back in 2014 but, now back at the top end of the sport, looked set to make a dramatic statement of intent with his 10-year-old grey, Laurier, until over-running the 74 seconds time-allowed. His twin sons, Olivier and Nicola, and his nephew Pieter Clemens were also in action, but the only Belgian contender to make the cut into the second-round decider was Jos Verlooy who eventually finished fifth.

Threw it down

First against the clock, Schulze Topphoff really threw it down to the rest of them when turning tight inside the final fence on the new course en route to the second fence. He said afterwards that he “lost a bit of time” after the following double, but when he scorched through the finish in 37.69 seconds, it certainly looked a tough time to beat.

The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Dante NOP lowered the second element of the double when next to go, but Augustsson-Zanotelli and the 11-year-old mare Kalinka van de Nachtegaele left all the poles in place to slot temporarily into second spot in 38.39 seconds.

Cottard then set sail, and despite taking the longer route to the second fence by going around the final oxer, came close to taking over the lead when breaking the beam in 37.78 seconds and moved into runner-up position.

Ireland’s Mikey Pender is always fast, and even though the 10-year-old HHS Calais is a tall, leggy horse, he still managed to produce the quickest time, galloping through the timers in 36.08 seconds, but carrying four faults when hitting the third-last. With just two left to go, Brazil’s Eduardo Pereira de Menezes was also quick, stopping the clock on 36.92 seconds but dislodging a pole at the second fence along the way.

However, for last man in, Jos Verlooy, it was even more frustrating when, well up on the clock coming to the last, that fell for four faults which saw him having to settle for that fifth place.

Nervous

Winner, Schulze Topphoff, said that he was more nervous watching the rest trying to beat him than riding his own jump-off round. Talking about Concordess NRW who carried him to individual gold and team bronze at the 2019 FEI European Young Riders Championship, he described her as “a bit of a diva!

“She always has her own ideas – sometimes she works with me but sometimes I have to go her way, but she’s always really fighting for me; she has a really powerful character!” said the rider who is based on his family’s small farm near Münster in Germany. The pair has been together a long time. “She is owned by my mother, and we have her since she was four years old and she went to her first shows with us. We trust each other. I choose a way to go and she knows I won’t ever ask her to do the impossible. We’ve had a lot of offers to buy her, but we are quite happy to keep her for ourselves; she is just great!” he added.

After a very successful week with a lot of top placings with his talented string of horses at La Coruña, the winner is now hoping to get the chance to collect some more points towards qualification for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final next April. For now, however, he and his horses are taking a Christmas break. “We won’t be in London (GBR) but I’m hoping to get the chance to go to Basel (SUI) and Amsterdam (NED) in January – we will see,” he said.

Result here

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Martin Fuchs Crowned Rolex Grand Prix Champion at CHI Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday 12 December 2021 – Martin Fuchs riding Leone Jei claimed the final equestrian Major of 2021, winning the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix at the Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHI Geneva), becoming the first rider in the history of the competition to win consecutive editions, following his victory in Geneva in 2019.

The world’s elite competitors gathered at the Palexpo arena for the Geneva International Horse Show, of which Rolex has been the Main Sponsor since 1996. The event, steeped in history and celebrating its 60th edition in 2021, is traditionally a showcase of precision and consistency, qualities demonstrated in abundance by Fuchs in Switzerland over the weekend, and reflected in Rolex’s own commitment to perpetual excellence in its watchmaking and all other endeavours.

The winning combination highlighted the critical importance of harmony between horse and rider, how trust and communication are the foundation of any successful partnership and the ability to push beyond the known limits of performance.

The demanding first round set by world-renowned course designers Gérard Lachat of Switzerland and Louis Konickx of the Netherlands saw just six of the 40 starters head through to the jump-off. First to go against the clock, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny set a fast but beatable time, leaving the door open to those who followed. Fuchs was next to go and produced a precision-perfect round aboard the nine-year-old Leone Jei, setting the time to beat of 41.54 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Kenny.

Rolex Testimonee Kent Farrington followed Fuchs into the arena, and put in a fearless effort, shaving 0.19 seconds off the time, only to accrue four faults at the very last fence. Those that followed were unable to match the accuracy and pace of Fuchs, with Harrie Smolders from The Netherlands and Max Kühner from Austria finishing second and third, respectively.

Commenting on his win, the Swiss rider said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to get my second victory here in Geneva. Leone Jei jumped great in both rounds. I knew that the jump-off suited me very well; I knew that I could leave out strides and that it would be difficult for my colleagues to do the same because Leone Jei has such a massive stride. I’m delighted to once again be the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.”

Equestrian fans will now eagerly look forward to the next Major, The Dutch Masters in March 2022, when Fuchs will be the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate challenge that rewards any rider who wins three consecutive Grand Prix at the four Majors.

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 (0) 22 302 2619

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com
+44 (0) 7748 186 833

Martin Fuchs Wins Rolex Grand Prix, Becomes New Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

The world watched on in anticipation, as the final Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2021 – the Rolex Grand Prix – played out at CHI Geneva in Switzerland, with 16 out of the world’s current top 20-ranked riders each staking their claim for a distinguished place in equestrian history. The culmination of four days of the highest level of show jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix would be decided over one round and a jump-off, should more than one rider go clear.

Representing 15 nations, the international field of 40 horse and rider combinations included the esteemed winners of the year’s previous three Majors: Max Kühner from Austria (winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters); Swiss Steve Guerdat (winner of the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’); and Daniel Deusser from Germany (winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen). As Live Contender, Deusser would settle for nothing less than victory in order to keep his Rolex Grand Slam journey alive, while Kühner and Guerdat would be looking to trigger the ‘two out of four’ bonus, which they were both in contention for.

As well as Deusser and Guerdat, Rolex was represented in CHI Geneva’s headline class by a further six of the world’s very best equestrian athletes, including Harry Charles (GBR), Bertram Allen (IRL), Martin Fuchs (SUI), Kent Farrington (USA), Kevin Staut (FRA), Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash (GBR), and Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA).

After a little over an hour, none of the first 23 partnerships to tackle the 14-obstacle, 18-effort test were able to go clear, with the majority struggling to master the course’s tricky combinations, particularly the oxer at 13a. However, that was soon to change when Ireland’s Darragh Kenny produced a faultless round, much to the delight of the well-informed crowd. Kenny’s clear was immediately emulated by local rider, Swiss hero Martin Fuchs, who cleared the final vertical to rapturous applause. Co-designed by Swiss Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx from The Netherlands, the course then claimed the scalps of a trio of top-level riders, including Deusser, Guerdat, and reigning Olympic Individual champion, Ben Maher. The opening day’s winner of the Trophée de Genève, American Kent Farrington, was once again on top form, immaculately negotiating the course with his 15-year-old mare, Gazelle, and booking his place in the jump-off. After another handful of combinations were unable to go clear, it was Kühner and his brilliant 10-year-old gelding, Elektric Blue P, who made no mistake, ensuring they were still in the running for the non-consecutive ‘two out of four’ bonus. Representation in the jump-off from the United States was soon doubled when Laura Kraut and Baloutinue crossed the finish line without a fault. Shortly afterwards, Harrie Smolders became the final rider to go clear, and in doing so setting up a scintillating six-horse jump-off.

First to go in the jump-off, Kenny became the first rider to record a double clear. Next up, Fuchs and his nine-year-old Leone Jei made it two out of two, comfortably beating Kenny into second place by nearly two seconds in a time of 41.54 seconds. Farrington looked as though he would make it three out of three; however, after a typically blistering round, he was denied the honour after putting down the final Rolex vertical. Despite going double clear, Kühner was unable to knock Fuchs off top spot after the Austrian finished 0.68 seconds off the pace. With Kraut putting two fences down, Fuchs’ destiny would lie in the hands of last to go, 41-year-old Smolders; however, the Dutchman fell agonisingly short, eventually finishing in second place, just 0.23 seconds off the time of 2021 Rolex Grand Prix champion and the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender, Martin Fuchs.

On his special and hugely talented nine-year-old gelding, Fuchs commented: “Leone Jei is very unique in the qualities that he has. The way that he jumps – he does it so lightly and effortlessly, which is impressive to see in a nine-year-old horse. He is very good in his head, he is so motivated, and he always wants to do his best, so I really appreciate having a horse like that in my stable and being able to look forward to the future together.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Ben Maher Wins 20th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Ten of the world’s very best show jumping athletes battled it out in the headline class on day two of CHI Geneva 2021, with each partnership vying to be crowned Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion in the 20th edition of this epic encounter. Contested over two rounds, the Gérard Lachat- and Louis Konickx-designed course would be the ultimate test of horsemanship, requiring a perfect balance of speed, precision, and harmony between horse and rider.

First to go, Frenchman Kevin Staut and his 14-year-old mare, Tolede de Mescam Harcour, were unlucky to put one fence down. Next up, current world number eight Jérôme Guery and his stallion, Quel Homme de Hus, crossed the finish line fault-free, much to the delight of the Belgian. Great Britain’s Ben Maher and his superstar gelding Explosion W followed Guery’s lead, making no mistake around the 12-obstacle test. Then followed a procession of five riders, Henrik von Eckermann, Steve Guerdat, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, and Martin Fuchs, who were all unable to record a clear round. The last two riders out of the 10 starters – Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Swede Peder Fredricson – showed their class, breezing the course with ease, each without a fault.

A slightly shortened second round, made up of nine obstacles, awaited the evening’s competitors. As well as the half-time break giving the volunteers an opportunity to modify the course, the Geneva Arena’s spectators were treated to some sad but celebratory words from legendary Canadian rider, Eric Lamaze, as his adored 18-year-old mare Fine Lady 5 was retired. Lamaze and Fine Lady won the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in 2016, so the setting for a final goodbye was very fitting.

First to go in round two, home favourite Martin Fuchs picked up another fault, while compatriot Steve Guerdat and partner Victorio Des Frotards were also unable to record a clear round. Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash, made amends for his first round penalty and time fault, going clear, but accumulating a total of five penalties. 2017’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion, Kevin Staut and his stunning grey received a huge cheer from a delighted crowd after they went clear. Current world number one Peder Fredricson wasn’t to be so fortunate, picking up a second fault to finish on eight penalties. A stunning and assured round by Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward was enough to knock Staut off top spot. Uncharacteristically, Deusser’s mount Killer Queen VDM refused the second fence putting him out of contention. The penultimate pair to go, reigning Individual Olympic champion Ben Maher and Explosion W went brilliantly clear, beating von Eckermann into second place by nearly two seconds. All eyes were then on Jérôme Guery to cause a late upset; however, a fence down and a slower time saw him slot into third, meaning Maher would be crowned 2021’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final champion, rounding off a truly memorable year.

On the part that his team played in his victory, Maher commented: “My team plays a huge part. My owners are here to watch this evening, and without them I wouldn’t be able to be riding Explosion W over the last few years. My groom Cormac has been with me since he was 16 years old, so he’s grown up together with me, and it’s very special for me to see him take big moments like this, and it wouldn’t be possible without him.”

Read more here.

© 2021 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam