Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Lady Aurelia Set for a Return to Royal Ascot

Photo: Keeneland via Twitter.

American sprinter Lady Aurelia has established herself as one of the quickest horses on the planet over the last couple of seasons and she will get the opportunity to win another big race in Europe later this year when she travels across to the UK for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Wesley Ward’s runner first rose to prominence as a two-year-old in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016, where she made all in a dominant display which saw her prevail by seven lengths on her first appearance in the UK.

The filly returned to the Royal meeting last year to take on the opposite sex and much more experienced horses in the King’s Stand Stakes when going off at 7/2 in the betting for one of the leading spring races at the meeting. Under the hands of John Velazquez, she was ridden prominently once again and was able to hit top speed inside the final 200 metres to score by three lengths ahead of Profitable and Marsha, respectively.

Lady Aurelia is 4.5 in the ante-post betting for the King’s Stand Stakes next month and she is sure to be popular, especially with punters who take advantage of the best free betting offers on Royal Ascot, including a £30 free offer from Dafabet. Her odds drifted slightly recently as she was beaten on her seasonal reappearance at Keeneland in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes where she had to settle for second place behind Triple Chelsea.

Battaash Looks to Continue Dominance in Sprint Division

Battaash is the bookmakers’ favourite at 3.5 for the King’s Stand Stakes, following what was a dominant campaign in 2017, with four victories coming from his five starts. Charles Hills’ runner is set for his first outing at Royal Ascot this year and will be bidding to prevail in one of the biggest sprint races in the British Champion Series.

The son of Dark Angel beat a strong field in the Group Two King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last year which earned him the opportunity to line up in a Group One field. Connections took their chance in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Unfortunately for those associated with the horse, he did not produce his best performance of the season as he could only come home fourth on the Knavesmire.

Battaash had a second shot at Group One contest at Chantilly in the Prix de l’Abbaye. With Champion Jockey Jim Crowley on his back, the pair made all in France in what was a career-best performance from the then three-year-old. Given what he has achieved in the last 12 months, he is arguably the best sprinter in Europe right now.

Redkirk Warrior to Carry the Flag for Australia

FlemingtonRacecourse via Twitter

Australian horses often travel across to the UK for Royal Ascot – in particular, the leading sprinters who tackle the European horses in the King’s Stand Stakes and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Redkirk Warrior has an entry in both races.

The seven-year-old has two Group One wins in the bag already this year at Flemington. He last raced at Ascot in 2014 when he was based in the UK in William Haggas’ stable.

Royal Ascot begins on June 19 and the King’s Stand Stakes is one of the feature races on day one of the meeting.

Justify Has Triple Crown Quality

Photo: KentuckyDerby via Twitter.

Justify produced an outstanding performance to win the Kentucky Derby, delivering on the pre-race expectations to triumph at the event. The bay colt was considered the favourite for the meet, although there was perceived threat of a challenge from the emergence of Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelssohn. However, O’Brien’s charge endured a miserable time at the Churchill Downs as Justify confirmed his dominance of the field, securing the victory ahead of Good Magic by two-and-a-half lengths. It was Bob Baffert’s fifth triumph in the Derby, leaving him just one behind Ben A Jones at the top of the all-time list.

Justify has the talent to build on his success, boasting similar qualities to that of Baffert’s previous victor at the Derby – American Pharoah. The horse would win the Triple Crown, adding further victories at the Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. The three-year-old’s performance has seen him installed as the leading contender for the next race of the trilogy – the Preakness Stakes. As a result, he does not have great value in the betting odds, although given the dominance of his performance at the Churchill Downs, the bookies will be confident in their assertions.

However, given the difficulty of achieving the Triple Crown, it could be worth considering an outsider for the crown. In recent years, both California Chrome and I’ll Have Another have won two of the events but, ultimately, fell short of etching their place in history. Justify may have the quality to rise to the occasion on the two race days, but it could be worth considering another horse for the Preakness Stakes such as Good Magic. He does have a victory at the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, defeating Solomini and Bolt D’Oro. Good Magic could be worth backing with a free bet at 7/2, with https://freebets.uk/ offering a variety of sign-up offers, including with Bet365 to get up to £100 in free credits.

Baffert’s charge has known nothing other than victory and is rightly the leading contender for the Preakness Stakes. He has four races under his belt in his limited career, becoming the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby having not competed as a two-year-old since 1882. Justify has won four of his meets by comfortable margins. In his final outing before the Derby he put a marker down against one of his rivals for the crown, defeating Bolt D’Oro by three lengths.

One of the criticisms levied at Justify ahead of the Derby was his lack of action away from Santa Anita. Conditions were tricky due to heavy rainfall at the Churchill Downs, but Mike E Smith ensured that he kept his charge on course for the victory. He made his move four furlongs from the end of the race and was able to maintain his surge down the straight to see out a comfortable win, finishing two-and-a-half lengths ahead of Good Magic. The next challenge for Justify will come at Pimlico where his rival could end his attempt for a historic run towards the Triple Crown.

Champions Crowned at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show

The final day of Royal Windsor Horse Show provided top class sport and entertainment across the showground as the week’s Champions were crowned.

The pinnacle of the CSI5* Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix went to Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat after a gripping jump-off, featuring some of the world’s best riders.

After a fantastic week of Showing action, which included wins for Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Championship went to Robert Walker and his Hunter Champion, View Point.

Her Majesty The Queen was present to watch the retirement of her homebred former racehorse, Barbers Shop, winner of the Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Championship in 2017, in an emotional ceremony in the Castle Arena.

SHOW JUMPING: A SPECIAL VICTORY FOR STEVE GUERDAT

A thrilling Rolex Grand Prix provided the perfect finale to Show Jumping at Royal Windsor, with the world’s best riders in action, all looking to claim the prestigious title and the €75,000 first prize.

A full field of 30 riders contested Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater’s up-to-height 1.60m course, which posed several challenges, with faults falling evenly throughout the course. 10 combinations jumped clear through to the jump-off, setting up an exciting climax.

Britain’s William Whitaker was the first to take on the shortened course, jumping a brilliant clear round to put the pressure on. Cousin Robert Whitaker followed and showed that the time could be beaten, but was the first of several combinations to incur four faults at the Rolex oxer at the last.

Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) put in a physical display of riding to push Caspar 232 on between fences and take the lead with an impressive time of 44.31; however, it was Laura Kraut (USA) with new ride Catwalk 22 who lay down the gauntlet to the remainder of the field, knocking 0.79 seconds off Gaudiano’s time. Kraut, who has only had the ride on the eleven-year-old Catwalk 22 for three weeks, showed her brilliance, making slightly wider turns, which allowed a smooth and fast-paced round to take the lead.

With four left to go, including two Olympic champions and the reigning European champion, it was a nail-biting conclusion, and it was Steve Guerdat (SUI) with his consistent mare Bianca who managed to pip Kraut to the post with a relentless pace and quick turnbacks to shave another 0.41 seconds off the time, finishing in a time of 43.11. Canada’s Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5, one of the fastest combinations on the international circuit looked like he had the class in the bag as last to go, crossing the line in a time of 41.82, but was another to succumb to the final fence, finishing on four faults.

Celebrating his victory, Guerdat, who last competed at Windsor at the European Championships in 2009, where he won team gold, said, “Windsor has been a good place for me. I had a really good feeling coming in to today. Bianca has been jumping really good and gaining experience and she felt really fresh and happy to jump this week. It might sound crazy, as amazing as she is, but this is the first class we have won together, so I’m really pleased for he; she really deserves it; it’s very special.”

Earlier in the day, there was a British victory in the Palm Speed Stakes, with Robert Smith taking the win riding the eleven-year-old grey gelding Cimano E.

As second to go, compatriot William Whitaker set the standard aboard Lammy Beach, however his lead was short-lived as Wilm Vermeir (BEL), already a winner this week, shaved 0.2 seconds off his time to take over the top spot. Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano, always a threat against the clock, wasted no time from the start, making an exceptionally tight turn to the final line to go faster still, posting a time of 54.87 aboard the nine-year-old Einstein.

With a strong field to follow, the pressure was on to post a fast time, which resulted in a few mistakes as riders chased the leading time. Robert Smith negotiated the twisty track brilliantly, moving quickly across the ground and making the tightest of turns throughout to set the new pace with a time of 54.01, over half-a-second faster than Gaudiano. Smith’s time proved unbeatable, Frenchman Olivier Robert gave it his best shot, making a new move inside an oxer to number eight, but his effort was only good enough for third position.

Speaking after the class, Smith said, “It’s always great to have a home win, but the Show here at Windsor is as good as anywhere in the world and it’s always top-class competition. The classes this week have all been fast and very competitive, so it’s not easy to get in the money, so I’m really pleased to be going home with a win.”

DRIVING: A NINTH VICTORY FOR EXELL

The world’s number one horse four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell from Australia, showed yet again why he has held this title consistently over the last decade. He steered his team of black horses – three Gelderlanders and an Oldenburg mare – to his ninth CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix victory at Royal Windsor Horse Show.

With nearly 20 penalties in hand after the marathon, the result seemed never in doubt, but the cones course still has to be driven and course designer, Johan Jacobs from the Netherlands, had set a course that presented a strong challenge to all drivers. Last to go, Exell had one ball down and collected 0.33 time penalties but he remained the comfortable and much applauded winner.

Edouard Simonet from Belgium, a protegee of Exell’s and winner of the marathon section here last year, retained the second place which he had claimed after the marathon, his team of black Arab cross Friesians looking ever more confident. Third place – and an outstanding result – went to Bram Chardon, the 25-year-old son of Ijsbrand Chardon, the Netherlands’ leading driver over two decades; he moved ahead of his father in the cones phase at this, his Royal Windsor debut in horse four-in-hands.

Switzerland’s Beat Schenk, leader after the marathon phase, retained his winning position in horse pairs, to record his fourth Royal Windsor victory. The ten-time Swiss champion pairs a black German-bred horse with a grey Lippizaner; with them he also took the bronze medal at last year’s World Horse Pairs Championship at Lipica, Slovenia. Germany claimed second and third places in this class with Sebastian Warneck and Dennis Schneiders, moving up from third and fifth, respectively.

In pony four-in-hands Great Britain’s hopes were high when young driver Roger Campbell’s excellent marathon put him into second place overall. In third place behind him, Tinne Bax from Belgium applied all possible pressure in the cones phase by posting the only double clear of the class. With less than one penalty between them, Roger could have neither driving nor time penalties; sadly, his one cone down dropped him to third. The winner was Jan de Boer, whose team of Welsh ponies rose to the occasion to give the Dutchman his seventh Royal Windsor victory.

SHOWING: ROBERT WALKER REIGNS SUPREME

Wednesday’s Hunter Champion, View Point ridden by Robert Walker, remained foot perfect in the electric Castle Arena in front of Her Majesty The Queen to become this year’s Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Champion. Sixteen of the week’s high-class champions came before judges Carl Hester MBE and Charlotte Dujardin CBE to select which stood out above the others.

Hester said: “We were looking for a correct type that looked easy to ride and covered the ground effortlessly.”

The reserve went to the reining Horse of the Year Show Supreme Pony, Lucy Richardson’s Welsh Section A gelding, Thistledown Van Der Vaart, ridden by her daughter Lilly and produced by Sharn Linney.

Earlier in the day, North Yorkshire-based William Pittendrigh jumped one of the few clear rounds to win the Intermediate Working Hunter Pony Championship, and a storming gallop clinched his first Royal Windsor title. His partner was his mother’s six-year-old Silver Lough. Reserve went to the class runner-up, Jodie Creighton, who traveled from Northern Ireland specially to compete at the prestigious event with her seven-year-old, Newmarket Alloy, earning the Royal International ticket as Silver Lough had already qualified.

Oli Hood floated away with the Riding Horse Championship sponsored by Mr and Mrs Phil Swallow for the second year running on Annabel Jenks’ stunning gelding Diamonds Are Forever, who triumphed here last year with Oli’s father Allister. When local rider Jayne Ross won the small class and stood reserve with Diane Stennett’s Casino, the result was an exact duplicate – not only of last year’s Royal International Horse Show, but also The Horse of The Year Show, where Diamonds Are Forever went on to stand Supreme Champion.

Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)203 176 0355
www.rwhs.co.uk

USA Takes Top Three at World Equestrian Games FEI CRI 3* Reining Test Event

Dan Huss and Ms Dreamy. Photo Credit ©Sportfot.

TRYON, NC, USA – May 13, 2018 – The all-American podium stood tall after the completion of two days of FEI CRI 3* competition hosted at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), in Tryon, North Carolina, alongside the first installment of the Carolina Classic at TIEC. The week served as the eighth and final Test Event ahead of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 coming to the venue this fall, from September 11-23.

FEI combinations took to the newly constructed Indoor Arena, located at the main entrance of TIEC, to test their skills against some of the discipline’s biggest names from Thursday, May 10-13. The first day of competition saw 22 competitors contest the USEF Selection Trial First Go on Thursday, May 10, before welcoming back 20 of the original entries. Ultimately, Jordan Larson (USA) and Dan Huss (USA) both walked away with the blue ribbon, tying on a composite score of 450.

Huss entered the second round sitting in first place after scoring 224 points aboard Frederick Christen’s Ms Dreamy, a 2010 Quarter Horse mare (Magnum Chic Dream x A Gal With A Gun). Larson improved upon his first-round score of 222.0 to share top honors riding ARC Gunnabeabigstar, a 2011 Quarter Horse stallion (Gunnatrashya x Wimpys Little Chic) owned by HDC Quarter Horses, to an impressive second-round score of 228. The young Cade McCutcheon (USA) followed just behind on a total score of 446 points aboard Custom Made Gun, a 2011 Quarter Horse stallion (Colonels Smoking Gun x Custom Made Dunit) owned by McQuay Stables, after receiving a 222.5 in the first round and a 223.5 in the final competition.

All three riders are hoping to return to represent the United States at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) in September and Huss commented that he’s been waiting for the right horse to come along in order to pursue contention.

“Basically for me, I was just waiting for the right horse,” he explained. “I usually share [Ms Dreamy] with a Non-Pro, but obviously the mare is too old to do the derbies, so Fredrick [Christen] said I could show her at the FEI level. It would mean a lot to me to represent the U.S. I came with the intention of winning here. I’m not a guy that has a big ego, but I wanted to win here and I want to win at the WEG. I have some room to improve yet and I’d have to beat my fellow teammates because they’re tough.”

Huss, of Scottsdale, AZ, complimented the TIEC show organizers for hosting the venue’s first reining event. “I think Tryon did a great job hosting their first reining competition. From what I understand they’re putting stalls in here in the Indoor Arena, so it’ll all be under one roof and I think it’ll be pretty nice.”

Larson, a seasoned WEG competitor based in Valley View, TX, echoed Huss’ sentiments about what a USA-hosted Games means, stating, “It’s awesome to have the WEG return to the US. It’s really cool to be able to represent our country here at home. It was awesome to go to France, but there’s even more pressure I think to represent well here, so we’ve got our work cut out to get ready for the next one and be even better.”

Commenting on his significant improvement in score between the first and second round, Larson had nothing but praise for his mount. “This horse is a good one,” he emphasized. “He’s been really good to me. It seems like he keeps getting better and better and when it counts he’s at his best. In the first round I tried to play it safe and he was kind of messing around with me a little bit, but when I call on him for everything he is great.”

The pressure of the USA team selections definitely weighed heavily on all competitor’s minds, Larson explained, saying, “There’s always a lot of pressure. We have really high expectations of ourselves and because we’re hoping to be on the team to represent the USA, the pressure goes up,” he admitted. “But, that’s what we thrive on, so we have fun doing it.”

Cade McCutcheon, whose 18th birthday is in a few short weeks, is also looking for the chance to represent his country, with his sights set on being the youngest reining competitor to ever compete in the history of the WEG.

The Aubrey, TX native ran the stallion Custom Made Gun, whom his family raised and his grandparents own, to third place after putting in a near perfect round. “It means a lot to come here with the likes of Jordan [Larson], Casey [Deary], my dad [Tom McCutcheon], Shawn [Flarida] – I’ve never had to do that. I’ve always been in the Non-Pro, which isn’t easy, but it’s easier than this. It meant a lot and it was a big honor to just show here, and a bigger honor to be where I’m at.”

Riding beside his father, WEG Gold Medalist Tom McCutcheon this week, the young talent commented, “It’s a cool deal being a third generation reining competitor. Not a lot of people can say that. I just hope I do as well as they did if I make it on the USA Team. It means a lot to me to be able to do this sport with my family. It makes it way more fun, and they have the experience that will help me get through the team and the individual phases.”

Further discussing his family legacy, McCutcheon also noted the incredible accomplishments of his multi-generational equestrian family. Despite being the youngest rider in the FEI CRI 3* this week, McCutcheon commented on the benefit of the experience as he looks towards a bright future.

“Maybe there’s a little more pressure coming from a reining family, but I don’t think very much. My parents don’t put any pressure on me, and it wouldn’t make a difference to them if I marked a 208 or a 220, as long as I’m having fun.”

For more information, visit www.Tryon2018.com.

Larson and Huss Tie for Gold, McCutcheon Bronze at WEG Reining Test Event

Larson and Arc Gunnabeabigstar (Photo by Waltenberry)

Mill Spring, N.C. – In an important step towards being named to the U.S. Reining Squad for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018, U.S. reining athletes contested the WEG Reining Test Event and USEF Selection Trial this week at the Tryon International Equestrian Center on Thursday, May 10 and Saturday, May 12.

With scores compiled from both evening’s rounds, it was Jordan Larson and Dan Huss leading the way for a gold-medal tie and ending on a combined score of 450.0. Larson (Valley View, Texas) and Arc Gunnabeabigstar, a seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by HDC Quarter Horses USA, LLC, sat fourth after Thursday’s round with a score of 222.0. Huss (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Ms Dreamy, an eight-year-old Quarter Horse mare owned by Christen R. Frederick, won Thursday’s round on a score of 224.0.

Larson was part of the gold-medal U.S. Reining Team for WEG in Normandy, France in 2014 and is excited about the possibility of representing the U.S. again. “It was cool to go to France, but I think it is even more pressure to represent well here. We have our work cut out to get ready. That horse is a good one. [Arc Gunnabeabigstar] has been really good to me and it seems like he just keeps getting better. When it counts, he’s his best. When I ask him for everything, he’s his best.”

“For me, I was just waiting for a nice horse,” laughed Huss. “She is a Magnum daughter out of a Gunner mare. It would mean a lot to me [to represent the U.S. at WEG]. I’m not a guy with a big ego, but I came here to win this and I want to win the WEG. I have some room to improve. I have to beat my fellow teammates, because they are tough.”

A third-generation reiner and on the cusp of his 18th birthday, Cade McCutcheon claimed the bronze medal at the USEF Selection Trial. McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) and Custom Made Gun, a seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion owned by Tim and Colleen McQuay, were tied for second after Thursday’s round. The combination held their own in the second round to end on a score of 446.0. Should McCutcheon’s place on the U.S. Reining Team for WEG be finalized, he would become the youngest U.S. athlete to represent reining at the Games.

“It means a lot to come here with the likes of Jordan [Larson] or Casey [Deary], my dad, and Shawn [Flarida],” said McCutcheon. “I’ve always been in the non-pro, which isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than this. It is a big honor to get to show here and a bigger honor to be where I am at. It means a lot to be able to do this sport with my family; it makes it way more fun. My parents don’t put any pressure on me. It wouldn’t make a difference to them if I marked a 208 or a 220, as long as I am having fun.”

Full results for the WEG Reining Test Event and USEF Selection Trial can be found here.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Spectacular Dujardin Dominates on Day Three of Royal Windsor Horse Show

CSI5* Show Jumping kicked off on day three of CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show, with five of the world’s top 10 riders taking to the prestigious Castle Arena over the course of the day. The highlight of the evening performance, the CDI4* Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music, once again saw Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester dominate, taking the top two spots for the second night in succession. Earlier in the day, there was a popular victory for Her Majesty The Queen with her homebred mare, Balmoral Mandarin, in the Highland Showing class.

DRESSAGE: FREESTYLE BY NAME, FREESTYLE BY NATURE

Mount St John Freestyle lived up to her name, winning the FEI Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. Ridden by Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin, the pair dominated the class, running away with the victory and was the only one of the 12 combinations to break the 80% barrier with a score of 81.2%.

The nine-year-old mare produced a confident programme that made the most of her off-the-floor paces, impressive passage and extensions.

“That was only her second freestyle and it’s not something we practice at home so I am really happy. Everything she does, she does so well and I can’t ask for more, especially at this stage,” said Charlotte who rode the programme to the music ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ that was originally made for Valegro. “It was Valegro’s very first music and brings back many memories and always gives me goosebumps – and I just love riding to it.”

Carl Hester also chose to introduce Hawtins Delicato to freestyle using a former successful programme, originally used for his Olympic team gold medal horse, Uthopia. Delicato, like Freestyle, however also looked at ease performing to music.

“He felt much more rideable tonight,” said Carl who bought the British-bred gelding as a four-year-old from breeder Judith Davies, and has since bought a sibling. “He is a very exciting horse and at this stage just needs nursing along.”

Former British team rider Gareth Hughes finished one better tonight to make the top three with Don Carissimo and was ‘over the moon’ with the outcome. “That is only his second outing this year and was a whole lot better than the first – he is a real trier,” said Gareth.

Once again the five British riders took the first five places, with British-based Dane Ulrik Moelgaard and Michigan completing the top six.

SHOW JUMPING: D-DAY AT ROYAL WINDSOR AS CSI5* GETS UNDERWAY

Daniel Deusser made a winning debut at Royal Windsor Horse Show, taking the feature class of the day, the 1.50m CSI5* Bahrain Pearl Stakes, in spectacular style. With 16 horses through from the first round, it was an exhilarating jump-off, with an open course encouraging forward riding and leaving no margin for error. As second to go, Canada’s Eric Lamaze and the brilliant Fine Lady 5, one of the fastest combinations on the international circuit, set the pace with a fast and faultless round that was sure to take some beating. Following him into the prestigious Castle Arena, Britain’s Robert Smith, looked like he might pose a serious threat, with an extremely tight turn to the double across the middle of the arena, but he crossed the line in a time 0.58 seconds behind Lamaze, enough for eventual fourth.

As fifth to go in the jump-off, Deusser, riding the fourteen-year-old mare Equita Van T Zorgvliet, rode a beautifully smooth and deceptively fast round to shave 0.15 seconds off the previous fastest time and take the lead, stopping the clock in 37.63 seconds. With 11 riders to follow, the win was by no means certain, but no-one could topple Deusser from pole position. The notoriously fast Emanuele Gaudiano, riding Chalou, posed the biggest challenge as last to go, but despite exceptionally tight turns throughout, his time of 38.22 seconds was only good enough for third place.

Speaking after the class, Deusser said, “I am very happy with my horse Equita Van T Zorgvliet. I know she has a very big stride and is naturally very fast. I saw a bit of Eric’s round, so I knew I had to try hard to beat his time, but everything went well and I’m really happy about that. It’s my first time here at Windsor and I was very impressed when I walked onto the showground; it’s a beautiful showground; there’s a lot of space to ride and it’s great to see such a big crowd on a Friday afternoon. I must say congratulations to the organisers!”

Earlier in the day, it was a Belgian one-two in the opening CSI5* competition of the Show, the Manama Speed Stakes, a 1.45m two phase competition. As first to go, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor set the standard with a double clear aboard Veneno, however compatriot Bertram Allen was the first to lay down the gauntlet, knocking over eight seconds off O’Connor’s time, to put the pressure on the remaining competitors. Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr, a recent winner at CSI4* Hagen, jumped an impressive round, keeping his foot to the floor throughout and making an exceptionally tight turn to the Big Ben fence at 12, to post a time of 28.93 and take the lead. Crowd favourite, Britain’s John Whitaker, came close to challenging with a time of 30.25, but it was not until the penultimate to go, Wilm Vermeir, riding the twelve-year-old chestnut mare Gentiane De La Pomme, that the lead was jeopardised. Taking a stride out to the planks at 11 and galloping to the last, Vermeir managed to knock 0.27 seconds off Mathy Jr’s time to take the victory.

SHOWING: ROYAL WINDSOR DEBUTANTE TAKES VICTORY

A Welsh Section C stallion was this year’s judges’ choice as Horse & Hound Mountain and Moorland Supreme In-Hand champion. Moorcroft The Master, a 13-year-old bay stallion owned and bred by the Howard family from Wales, looked majestic in the sunshine as he strode away with this most prestigious award.

Janine Sehne’s versatile Connemara mare, Tyan Ma’Lady, was reserve in the capable hands of Sue Deakin, who will partner the eight-year-old in the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland section.

Her Majesty The Queen, who as always took a keen interest in these classes, posted her second win of the Show when her home-bred mare, Balmoral Mandarin, headed her Highland class and stood reserve champion of the breed.

Oxfordshire-based producer Jo Bates clinched The Count Robert Orssich Hack Championship for the second year running with Suzanna Welby’s 2016 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) champion, Elusive, after some of the strongest classes seen for some years. In the Castle Arena finale, the elegant bay pipped the reigning HOYS victor, Young Lochinvar, who won the Small Height division.

The Martin Collins Enterprises Cob Championship went to Lancashire-based home producer Anne Gilliver after a sparkling performance on Sue Benson’s “low-mileage” lightweight winner, Whitegate Dazzler. Although Anne has ridden at the Show before and judged here three times, this was her first Royal Windsor championship and her joy was clear to see.

“I think a lot of this horse — we don’t show him much but he’s so sensible and straightforward that he takes it all in his stride,” she said of the seven-year-old. “However, you never know what’s going to happen so this is the most tremendous thrill.”

DRIVING: A CLOSE CONTEST IN THE LAND ROVER INTERNATIONAL DRIVING GRAND PRIX

Competitors in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix horse pairs class face a close competition after today’s Dressage phase as just five penalty points separate the first four names on the leader board. In first place is last year’s winner here – Lars Schwitte from Germany – who counts his 2017 Royal Windsor win as his most memorable sporting achievement. Driving his KWPNs he drove an accurate test to take the lead less than two penalties ahead of experienced Swiss horse pairs competitor Beat Schenk.

Schwitte’s win was all the more satisfying for him in that he was a late entry. Eager to compete here, he was put on a waiting list by his Federation and the Show, with his entry confirmed only in the last few weeks. As a warm-up, he competed in the Dressage phase at a GB national competition in Essex last weekend where his smooth test impressed those watching. With four international wins to his credit from 2017, he was a member of the silver medal winning team at the Horse Pairs World Championships in Slovenia.

Second-placed Schenk first competed here in 2006, when he won the horse pairs class, repeating this achievement in 2009 and 2011. In 2017, he was third at Royal Windsor, won the international event at Saumur, France and was a bronze medallist at the Horse Pairs World Championships in Slovenia.

Only just behind him in third place is Baroness Amely von Buchholtz from Argentina, a regular competitor here over the years. She took third place in the dressage phase in 2017.

ENDURANCE: ROYAL WINNER AT ROYAL WINDSOR ENDURANCE

Royal Windsor Endurance, supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain, provided another memorable day of sport, and Bahrain itself celebrated a win in the CEI2* with HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa riding Vipper De Luriecq coming in first in a time of 05:04:48. Portugal took top honours in the CEI1* with Rui Pereira riding a sublime three laps on Bloodie Mary finishing in 03:33:13.

HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa said, “It was an absolute pleasure to be able to ride in Windsor Great Park today and to be able to shake hands with her Majesty the Queen. What a pleasure, aside from winning, to come here and raise my flag and perform.”

British riders were also out in force with 68 entered across the three classes. One notable success was Carri Ann Dark from Wiltshire, who finished a brilliant third in the CEI1* on former Team GB Gelding, HS Drift.

Tickets for Royal Windsor Horse Show are still available via www.rwhs.co.uk.

Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)203 176 0355

Longines Honors Justify’s Kentucky Derby Victory with Swiss Watch Presentation

Miami, FL, May 7, 2018 – As the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the Kentucky Derby, the Swiss watch brand Longines was proud to celebrate the victory of Justify in the 144th running of the event. To mark their remarkable victory against a field of impressive contenders, the brand awarded Justify’s owner, trainer and jockey with Longines timepieces at the winner’s party. The event was just the latest in Longines’ rich tradition of precision sports timekeeping.

Known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” the 144th edition did not disappoint. Justify narrowly edged out Good Magic and Audible to take the coveted prize money and the wreath of roses. The elegance of the spectacle culminated with the presentation of watches to jockey Mike Smith, trainer Bob Baffert, and owners WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners LLC by Mr. Pascal Savoy, Longines US Brand President, before an engaged crowd of spectators beneath the twin spires of Churchill Downs.

The Derby race represented the pinnacle of an exciting weekend of sport and elegance, with many highlights on and off the track. Earlier on Saturday, the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile race was claimed by Proctor’s Ledge and John Velazquez, who established a lead over On Leave and Jose Ortiz, close behind.

Ana Martins Communications
info@anamartinspr.com
www.anamartinspr.com

Kieffer and Veronica Finish in Top 10 at Badminton Horse Trials

Shannon Brinkman Photo.

First American Combination in a Top 10 Finish in More Than a Decade

Badminton, England – Land Rover/USEF Eventing Grant recipient Lauren Kieffer and Veronica became the first American combination to finish in the top 10 of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on Sunday in more than a decade. 2007 was the last time a U.S. combination broke the top 10 barrier, when Kim Severson (Charlottesville, Va.) and Winsome Adante finished third.

Placing ninth overall, Kieffer (The Plains, Va.) and the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Team Rebecca, LLC contested their seventh four-star event together, showing their experience from start to finish. Ending on a score of 38.6, the pair greatly improved their position from 2017, when they finished 17th overall. This year, Kieffer and Veronica held a spot consistently in the top 10 through all three phases of competition.

After their trip down the centerline, Kieffer and Veronica sat tied for the 10th position on a score of 25.0 after dressage. With the goal of improving upon their run from 2017, the combination headed into the cross-country phase. They jumped a clean course, but added some time penalties, boosting their overall position to seventh and a score of 34.6.

“I am absolutely ecstatic with [Veronica] – she is such an amazing little mare,” said Kieffer after their trip around the course designed by Eric Winter. “I came out and had a bit of a chip on my shoulder from last year and just wanted to prove that we could attack the course. [Veronica] was happy to do it.”

The show jumping phase saw the combination drop a single rail, slipping to ninth overall, but laying claim to a top 10 finish.

“[Veronica] jumped super,” said Kieffer. “We don’t get to practice jumping on grass very often, but she really jumped well out of it. Sometimes at the end of a four-star they are pretty haggard feeling, and she really felt great. She felt like she does every day, so I really couldn’t be more thrilled with how she came out this weekend.”

Fellow Americans Will Coleman (Charlottesville, Va.) and Four Star Eventing Group’s 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding OBOS O’Reilly retired on the cross-country course, while Madeline Backus (Larkspur, Colo.) and her and Laura Backus’s 17-year-old Anglo-Trakehner mare P.S. Arianna were eliminated on cross-country.

Full Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Harrie Smolders Debuts as Longines World Number One

Photo: Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z (FEI/Libby Law)

Dutch Olympian Harrie Smolders has secured the number one spot of the Longines World Ranking for the first time in his career, taking the reins from Olympic silver medallist Kent Farrington (USA) who held the position since May 2017.

Smolders, who turns 38 next week, made his Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, has been snapping at the heels of Farrington (34) for several months from second position. Now at the top of this elite list on 3158 points, he earns further recognition after his incredible year in 2017 which was marked by one dominant performance after another. Smolders took individual silver with Don VHP Z at the 2017 Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg, and shortly after clinched victory for his country at the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP).

He was awarded the Rider of the Year in the Netherlands in 2017, another first in his career, as an acknowledgement of his accomplishments in a single season and also made history with his double victory winning both the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour and the 2017 Longines Global Champions league.

Kent Farrington (USA) who is well on the road to recovery after breaking his right leg in a fall in mid-February now sits in second position on 2913 points, followed closely by Peder Fredricson (SWE) who remains at number three on 2821 points.

After her electrifying win at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping final in Paris in April, Beezie Madden (USA) has moved up from number 21 to 11, with Germany’s Daniel Deusser leaping back into the top ten from 17th position.

About Harrie Smolders

Harrie began riding at age eight, but was not initially keen on equestrian jumping. He won dressage and eventing competitions at the start of his career, and at age 16 he chose jumping over football.

Making his international début in 2000, Smolders has been part of the Netherlands Team at four FEI European Championships taking team bronze in 2001 Gijon (ESP) and individual silver in 2017 Gothenburg (SWE). He has competed at five FEI World Cup™ Jumping finals securing the silver medal in Gothenburg (SWE) in 2016. He also competed at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Lexington 2010 and will be looking to make his mark at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 in September.

Media contact:

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

US Equestrian Names Short List for FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Dressage Team

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian has named the Short List for the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) Tryon 2018 The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team. The Short List will compete in designated Observation Events throughout the summer.

The following horse-and-athlete combinations have been named to the Short List (in alphabetical order):

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) with Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Danilo

Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) with her and Curt Maes’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades

Ashley Holzer (New York, N.Y.) with Diane Fellows’s 11-year-old Hanoverian mare Havanna 145

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Haymarket, Va.) with her and Mary Anne McPhail’s 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Lonoir

Adrienne Lyle (Ketchum, Idaho) with Betsy Juliano’s 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion Salvino

Kasey Perry-Glass (Wellington, Fla.) with Diane Perry’s 15-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet

Steffen Peters (San Diego, Calif.) with Four Winds Farm’s 11-year-old Rheinlander mare Rosamunde and Four Winds Farm’s 10-year-old KWPN gelding Suppenkasper

Sabine Schut-Kery (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) with Alice Womble’s 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion Sanceo

Combinations will be required to compete in a minimum of two Observation Events. The Observation Event schedule, as well as the complete Selection Procedures, for the 2018 WEG The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team can be found here.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department