Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Coyle Cruises to First Longines Victory in Wellington

Photo: Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Cita. (FEI/Ashley Neuhof)

Daniel Coyle (IRL) didn’t let up from start to finish, and the 23-year-old swiftly earned the first World Cup qualifier victory of his young career at the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington (USA) aboard Ariel Grange’s Cita.

Jumping on the expansive grass field at the Jacobs family’s Deeridge Farms, Coyle mastered a large, technical track designed by fellow Irishman Alan Wade. Only five of the 40 competitors qualified for the jump-off, which featured the defending champion of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, McLain Ward (USA), two-time Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut (USA), and 17-time World Cup Finals veteran Margie Engle (USA). Second to go in the jump-off, Coyle jumped clear once again and set an unbeatable time of 34.79 seconds.

Last to go over the shortened track, Kraut, aboard St. Bride’s Farm’s Confu, made a valiant run at Coyle’s time but settled for second, finishing her round in 35.14 seconds. Engle and her veteran partner Royce finished third with a time of 35.30 seconds.

“It’s an amazing feeling to beat any one of these two women, and everybody in that jump-off!” — Daniel Coyle (IRL)

“It never makes it any easier when the riders are as good as they were. I saw Margie’s round and thought that was going to be tough to beat, let alone McLain and Laura, [who were jumping] after me.”

Coyle’s winning formula was to get ahead early.

“I did [one fewer] stride [than Laura] in the first line [of the jump-off], and I think that’s only the real place that I got her,” he explained. “I don’t think there was much difference in time there. I was really tight back to the third jump, and then I just tried to smooth out the finish instead of trying to do something crazy.”

Eight of the top 20-ranked American riders in the east coast sub league of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League competed in Wellington. With a fifth-place finish aboard HH Callas, Ward sits atop the standings, although he is automatically qualified based on his victory in last season’s final. Alison Robitaille (USA) sits second in the rankings, while Beezie Madden (USA), Leslie Howard (USA), and Laura Kraut (USA) all advanced their standings.

With his result, Coyle, ranks 10th in the east coast sub league standings, and he may now consider competing at the final stop on the North American League. That will take place at Live Oak Plantation in Ocala, FL (USA) on Sunday 18 March 2018.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Pacific and Central European League Athletes Earn Tickets to Paris Final

Photo: Mary Hanna riding Calanta. (FEI/Stephen Mowbray)

Australia’s Hanna tops the Pacific League Final; Russia’s Merkulova and Karasiova from Belarus claim the two Central European slots

Mary Hanna (63) claimed the single available qualifying spot for the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) in April when coming out on top at the Pacific League Final at Boneo Park, Boneo (AUS) last Saturday. Riding the 11-year-old KWPN mare Calanta, the five-time Olympian, who has also competed at three FEI World Equestrian Games and three FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, posted a strong Freestyle score of 75.390 to pin fellow-Australians Alex Hellyer (Bluefields Floreno) and Brett Parbery (DP Weltmieser) into second and third places.

Hanna’s campaign began when claiming first and second with Boogie Woogie and Sancette at Werribee almost 12 months ago, but she didn’t line out in Sydney last August where Judy Dierks steered Diamond Star into pole position ahead of Parbery and Weltmieser while Rozzie Ryan slotted into third with Harrah R.  And when the action moved on to Boneo in October it was Parbery who reigned supreme ahead of New Zealand’s Julie Brougham (Vom Feinsten) while Dierks finished third.

Hanna once again dominated when returning to the arena for the fourth leg of the series in Werribee in December where Calanta scored 74.400 for the win ahead of her other ride, Boogie Woogie. But when it was Boogie Woogie that finished second to Parbery’s Weltmieser in last weekend’s Grand Prix in which Hanna’s World Cup nominated ride Calanta had to settle for eighth place, it seemed the 2018 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final might not be on the cards for the seasoned veteran. It all changed on Freestyle day, however, when a personal-best score booked her spot in spectacular style.

In the Central European League, riders qualify for the Final using a points system based on finishing places at the qualifying legs, and the two spots up for grabs went to Russia’s Inessa Merkulova (53) and Hanna Karasiova (33) from Belarus. The 11-leg series began in Minsk (BLR) last April where Russia’s Elena Shaivoroniskaya (Sandra) pipped Karasiova (Arlekino) and then moved on to Mariakalnok (HUN) where Spain’s Morgan Barbancon Mestre (Sir Donnerhall ll), Germany’s Banjamin Werndl (Der Hit) and Portugal’s Bonaventura Freire (Sai Baba Plus) filled the top three placings.

At Lipica (SLO), Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj (Smeyers Molberg), Austria’s Belinda Weinbauer (Sohnlein Brilliant MJ) and Italy’s Valentina Truppa (Ranieri) filled the top three steps of the podium and then it was on to Nizhnly Novgorod (RUS) in June where Merkulova (Avans) pipped Karasiova (Arlekino). Later that month, Swedish star Patrik Kittel (Well Done de La Roche) claimed maximum points for his win in Brno (CZE) where Hungary’s Nikolett Szalai (Willy the Hit) finished second. Karasiova dominated at Taillinn (EST) in August where she steered Zodiak into pole position and Arlekino into third but it was Merkulova who stole the limelight in Moscow (RUS) in September when first with the fabulous Mister X and third with Avans, and following another win at the New Century venue in Moscow later that same month she cemented her position on the leaderboard. Merkulova has competed at three FEI European Championships, four FEI World Equestrian Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She has also lined out at six FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, and with Mister X has posted top-10 finishes in the last four editions.

Estonia’s Dina Ellermann (Landy’s Akvarel) pipped Karasiova for the top spot in Taillinn in October and Denmark’s Malene Kohlschmidt Ebbesen (Mira) won the tenth leg in Zakrzow (POL) before Karasiova concluded her impressive campaign with a first and third placing at the final Freestyle in Moscow in December which earned her the second berth for this region at the Paris Final.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Werth and Weihegold Are Awesome in Amsterdam

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold. (FEI/Digishots)

Defending series champions, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) and her magical mare Weihegold OLD, cruised to victory at the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED). The dynamic duo floated through their Freestyle test to post 88.540, almost a full percentage point more than their winning score at the third leg of the series on home ground in Stuttgart in November.

The capacity crowd packed into the RAI Arena included stars of many other sports along with Dutch royal family member Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno, who is a Board Member of the show organisation, Jumping Amsterdam. But it was the German Dressage queen who claimed centre stage when pinning the home side’s Edward Gal (47) with Glock’s Zonik into second, and her compatriot, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (31), into third with Unee BB.

“Weihe was really fantastic today. I can’t describe the feeling of this power and collection; she’s like a metronome – we can do whatever we want! The atmosphere in the arena was electric so I had to be careful because she was very hot. She produced really magnificent piaffe/passage, but I stopped breathing in the collected walk because she was SO ready for the canter!” — Isabell Werth GER (1st)

Last to go, she was chasing the super leading mark of 81.860 produced by Gal and his exciting young stallion who really settled to his job. “It’s five weeks since we finished third at Olympia (London) and there is a visible improvement,” said the man who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 2010 with the great Totilas. This was just the third Freestyle test for the 10-year-old Zonik. “He’s getting stronger and stronger and more motivated; suddenly we are making big steps forward and I have high hopes for him for the future!” he added.

As Werth rode into the arena, her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was just leaving after posting an impressive 81.195 with Unee BB who couldn’t take his eyes off Weihegold. “The older he gets the more powerful he gets – I think he’s going through a second youth; he certainly had plenty of extra energy today!” said von Bredow-Werndl of her 17-year-old stallion. And her result has moved her up to second place on the Western European League leaderboard behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who once again wowed the crowds with a great performance from Deja to finish fourth.

As title defender Werth doesn’t earn points at the qualifiers but must compete in at least two legs of the Western European League with the horse she intends to take to the Final in Paris in April and with two in the bag, and both winning ones, with Weihegold she is now turning her attention to her back-up ride, Emilio, who topped the line-up in Lyon in November. “Obviously Weihe is my first choice, but Emilio will go to the last two qualifiers in Gothenburg (SWE) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED),” she explained. She’s missing the next leg on home ground in Neumunster in three weeks’ time due to another commitment, but she has her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title clearly in her sights.

When asked how she is feeling ahead of the 2018 Final which will take place in the French capital from 10 to 15 April, she replied, “I’m happy but I never say I’m confident; that’s not my way. This is sport – you never know what’s going to happen so you always have to stay awake!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Cheltenham Festival Racing 2018

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival will take place in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK. The Festival 2018 will take place over 4 days from Tuesday March 13th with the Cheltenham Gold Cup taking place on Friday March 18th. The date of the horse races usually coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day which makes it popular for Irish visitors.

With 2018 here, the Cheltenham Festival gossip is starting to take shape now with Native River, Sizing John and Samcro all being hotly discussed ahead of next year.

Cheltenham free bets 2018 will keep you updated with the festival in every way imaginable, making sure we don’t just bring you the best Cheltenham betting offers, but the finest free bets, tips, enhanced odds and predictions from across the web.

The festival is all about big betting with 600 million pounds expected to change hands during the 28 Cheltenham Festival Races. The feature horse race will now be the fourth race on the card each day supported with grade one races and handicaps. In September 2017 it was announced that all races will have 48-hour declarations. This is great news for punters and racegoers who will now have more time to study the runners, riders and race form.

The first day of the Cheltenham Festival features the Champion Hurdle and is the main race on day one. The other major races on the first day include the Arkle Trophy and the Supreme Novices Hurdle. There are also some very good handicaps to take in including the Festival Handicap Chase which is always competitive and the Novices Handicap Chase which gives the first season chasers a shot at glory.

Day 2 of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is on the 14th March with the feature race being the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is another favorite within the Freebets.com camp, and we’ll be sure to bring you the best odds when we get them.

Another top race on day 2 is the Neptune Novices Hurdle which is the long-distance hurdle for future Stayers’ Hurdle candidates. Run on a distance of around three miles on the new course, it’s a big race for punters, with plenty of money going on last year’s winner Nichols Canyon.

The Ryanair Chase is another of Thursday’s finest and has seen a Willie Mullins horse win for the last two years. Will he make it three in a row in 2018?

The highlight of the final day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Gold Cup day is one of the biggest in the horse racing calendar and the bookies will be begging you to use their Gold Cup free bets and promotions.

With a prize pot of over £500,000, it’s one of the most lucrative races in the sport and is run over three miles, taking in 22 fences. Last year was won by Sizing John, a 7/1 shot ridden by Robbie Power. He’s among the Cheltenham Festival favorites again with bookies already backing him at 6/1. However, there’s still a way to go and the race is well worth studying the form for.

The Triumph Hurdle kicks off day 4 and the Grand Annual is the last race on the card. The Foxhunters also get their chance on the Friday of the Festival.

Top Horses That Closed 2017 in Style

As the year comes to an end, horseracing provided us with some great action that will remain in our hearts and in our minds for many years to come. We saw some hot favourites justifying their tags while some underdogs emerged from deep down to create remarkable upsets that were as entertaining to watch, as they were gruelling to digest for many punters who had bet online against them.

Before we turn to a new chapter in 2018, we want you to remember 2017’s best horseracing moments and below we have listed the horses that gave us some heart-stopping performances during this year.

One for Arthur

In April during the Grand National Aintree showpiece, there were two names fans and punters were looking forward to seeing competing tight up to the tail end of the race that is Blacklion, Definatelyred, Saint Are and Cause of Causes. However, one horse came to spoil the party in the process raising the Scottish flag high while making many punters lose a few hundred dollars in wagers. This particular horse is One for Arthur. One for Arthur, as he did show us all the way to the end of 2017, was not just a one-event wonder.

Buveur D’Air

In 2016, Buveur D’Air had already started to show the world flashes of brilliance. It was not really a surprise when he went on to win the Stan James Championship Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, but what struck many people was the ease with which he won that race. Considering that the race included powerhouses such as Racing Post Aikle and Labaik, Buveur D’Air’s stunning display just stamped 2017 as Buveur’s best year so far on the track.

Special Tiara

We don’t know what owner, David Young, had seen when he prefixed this horse’s name with ‘special’ but whatever it is, he must have teleported to the future because Special Tiara was all about breaking records in 2017. She broke the duck for British horses winning the Novices Chase at Cheltenham Festival. She also broke Douvan’s unbeaten record during the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a race she won though she was the clear underdog according to several bookmakers.

Sizing John

Whether a seasoned horse with plenty of experience or a first-timer, any horse that manages to win the competitive and highly lucrative Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup deserves a place on the list of outstanding horses in a calendar year and as a result, Sizing John finds his place on our list. Besides the Gold Cup, Sizing John also won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

USET Foundation Awards 2017 Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant to Mackenna Shea

Mackenna Shea and Landioso. Photo By: Leslie Threlkeld.

Gladstone, N.J. – Dec. 20, 2017 – The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation is pleased to announce it has awarded the 2017 Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant to up-and-coming eventing rider Mackenna Shea of Temecula, California.

The Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant is awarded through the USET Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Fund. This year’s winner, Shea, has demonstrated her talent at many of the nation’s top CIC3* and CCI4* events. At just 23 years old, Shea and her own Landioso, a 15-year-old Bavarian Warmblood gelding, who she has owned for 10 years, completed their first CCI4* during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2016, and later went on to win the Event at Rebecca Farm CIC3*.

Earlier in 2017, Shea, now 25, was named a recipient of the Karen Stives Eventing Endowment Fund Grant, which allowed her the opportunity to compete in Europe for the first time and participate in the Karen E. Stives European Emerging Athlete Tour.

Under the mentorship of British Olympic gold medalist, Leslie Law, Shea spent the month of May in Great Britain furthering her education and gaining valuable competition experience representing the United States on the international stage. As a result, Shea and Landioso successfully completed the 2017 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* in September.

The Amanda Pirie Warrington Fund was established by Pirie’s family in her memory with the purpose of helping to provide financial assistance to an eventing rider who has been identified as an emerging athlete with great talent and ability to represent the United States in the future. The recipient of the grant is a person who will benefit from the opportunity of continuing their training with top coaches and competing against the world’s best horse-and-rider combinations in eventing, one of three Olympic equestrian disciplines.

“It’s a huge honor and I was totally surprised,” expressed Shea. “I had a really good year, but I had a lot of support and I have a really great horse. It’s very rewarding to be considered for something like this and I hope next year is even better!”

As the recipient of the grant, Shea, who trains with Tamra Smith of Next Level Eventing, will receive up to $5,000 to help offset expenses associated with her training over the next year.

“I am planning to going out Florida in late February and I hope to use the grant to help me get out there and pay for lessons,” explained Shea. “That’s going to be a huge benefit for me, not having to worry about how I am going to make it work. I am going to use that as preparation for Kentucky, hopefully.”

Thanks to the Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant, Shea can focus on her training and preparing for future events as she aims towards continuing to represent the United States in international competitions.

For more information on the USET Foundation, visit www.uset.org.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Super Sunday at Olympia

Photo: Julien Epaillard aboard Toupie de la Roque.

The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Leg provided an afternoon of exhilarating sport in the Olympia Grand Hall, with only four of the 36 starters jumping a clear in the first round. As the penultimate to go in the jump-off, Britain’s Scott Brash set the packed crowd alight, jumping clear in a time which looked like it could be the winning round. However, the notoriously speedy Julien Epaillard, riding Toupie de la Roque, knocked Scott off the pole position to take the victory by 0.43 seconds.

The day kicked off with The Pony Club Mini-Major, which went to 11-year-old Poppy Deakin and the in-form Laura Renwick, with ponies also taking to the fore in the opening class of the evening session, The Mistletoe Mini Stakes, which was won by Rachel Proudley.

The evening CSI5* class, The Ivy Stakes, proved to be another challenging content, with just six clears through to the jump-off; however, a speed masterclass from John Whitaker secured the victory, ahead of Ben Maher and Laura Renwick, to make a British one-two-three.

Away from the world class sporting action, The Kennel Club Large Novice Dog Agility Final was won by Sara Bacon with Tynevermoor Torque, and the two Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand Nationals of the day went to Madeline Reeder Smith and Zak Kent.

John Whitaker’s assiduous scrutinising of the jump-off course for The Ivy Stakes paid off in spades as he found the most audacious turn which had the crowd roaring their appreciation.

The cheers became deafening as his winning time of 33.17 seconds flashed up, signalling the 62-year-old’s second victory of the week on his own and wife Clare’s 15-year-old stallion Argento.

It was a thrilling end to a great day’s sport with a British one-two-three, Ben Maher second on Madame X and Laura Renwick third on MHS Washington, with the younger riders all quick to acknowledge a genius ride.

“I studied the course carefully because I knew Kevin [Staut, eventual fourth on S&L Through the Looking Glas] was last to go and I had to do something,” explained John, who has been competing here for four decades.

“It shows what a good horse he is because when we did the sharp turn the crowd gave a big cheer and that could have put him off. This show is special, with the crowds and Christmas and everything. It’s a great feeling and I feel lucky to still be in the sport.”

Poppy Deakin, 11, secured the win in The Pony Club Mini-Major relay that had previous escaped both of her sisters, Daisy and Kirsten.

“I wanted to come here and do better than them,” said Olympia first-timer Poppy with a cheeky smirk.

Riding 16-year-old Munsboro Plunkett, and partnering Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick (Shiraz II), the Tynedale Pony Club branch member perfectly executed a tight turn back to the penultimate fence to take the class by more than one second.

“Poppy knew what she was doing,” said Laura. “I gave her hardly any advice. She was telling me how she was going to ride the course and she did what she said she would.”

Later on, North Yorkshire’s Rachel Proudley finally claimed her dream of winning The Mistletoe Mini Stakes with Painted Lady IV at the fourth attempt. “It’s my favourite show and it’s my last year riding her,” said Rachel, 12. “She’ll be staying in the family though, as she’ll now be ridden by my sister, Sarah.”

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

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

World’s Best Lead the Way at Olympia

Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick put on a spectacular performance to win The Cayenne Puissance in front of a packed-out grandstand with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as the guest of honour in the Presidents Box.

The afternoon session saw Spaniard Eduardo Alvarez Aznar speed to victory in the opening CSI5* Show Jumping class of the Show, with Australia’s Boyd Exell dominating the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving Top Score. The popular Kennel Club Dog Agility returned, with a win for Tracy Moerel and Deutschlander Schnappss in the ABC Dog Jumping Grand Prix and there was an emotional arena appearance by Show charity mascots Teddy and Doris, representing Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was present to enjoy an action-packed evening of top-class sport and equestrian entertainment, taking to the arena to present the awards for the Musto Inside Edge Stakes, won by Peder Fredricson, accompanied by European gold medal winners Tina Cook and Sophie Wells. The highlight of the evening, The Cayenne Puissance, was a closely contested affair, with Laura Renwick taking the eventual spoils as the only rider to clear the final 7′ 3″ wall.

Laura Renwick was overwhelmed by her spectacular victory on Top Dollar Vl in The Cayenne Puissance. Four riders made it to the fifth round, but Karline De Brabander from Belgium on Fantomas de Muze, Ireland’s Padraic Judge on City Business and 2016 joint winner Holly Smith on Quality Old Joker all faulted and as Laura entered the ring she knew the €7,425 prize was there for the taking.

“That wall is huge and, having seen the other horses hit it, having been jumping really well, I knew it was a big ask,” said Laura afterwards. “I was a little bit lucky – I didn’t have the best stride and the horse really had to use his body to get over it.

“I’ve never won the Puissance outright and so to do it on an eight-year-old horse with not much experience but loads of scope and heart feels amazing. The atmosphere was electric.”

Earlier in the day, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar riding Fidux headed a one-two for Spain in the opening jumping class, the Santa Stakes, holding off a late challenge from his fellow countryman Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro).

“I was early to go, and Manuel was right at the end. He knew what he had to do but wasn’t quite quick enough,” joked Eduardo, winner of last season’s Zurich Longines FEI World Cup qualifier with Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot. “[Fidux] is a real fighter and very quick across the ground.”

This is Eduardo’s second visit to Olympia, where he won the Six-Bar two years ago. “It’s such a fantastic special show, and a pleasure to ride here,” said Eduardo. “I hope to continue to back here for many, many years.”

Later, there was a Swedish one-two in the Musto Inside Edge Stakes, a speed class, when 2017 European Champion Peder Fredricson (H&M Zoulbet) beat compatriot Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Second Chance) by 0.77 sec to clinch the top prize.

The Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving Top Score competition may act as a warm-up to the FEI World Cup qualifier, but the crowd was treated to a razor-sharp contest. Of the seven drivers, representing six nations, no-one was prepared to give any quarter, but it was reigning FEI World Cup Champion Boyd Exell from Australia who again proved unassailable.

Exell, a seven-time FEI World Cup Champion, already has three qualifier wins under his belt this season. The last driver into the arena, he was one of only two to post a clear round; the other came from Belgium’s Glenn Geerts, but he trailed Exell by some seven seconds.

Exell had a new inexperienced horse in the lead and explained: “He was a bit tired in the second round but he did all I asked of him. I love competing at Olympia – the atmosphere is always superb; it’s like coming home for me.”

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

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

Edward Gal Dominates on Opening Night of Olympia

The World’s best Dressage riders were out in force on the opening night of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Edward Gal (NED) was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound.

In addition to the top-class competition, Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester took centre stage to give a dressage masterclass showcasing the training routine of a champion and performances from The Chilean Huasos and the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch gave the crowd a night to remember. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National got off to a flying start with Ollie Proctor and Holydell Sensation passing the post in front to take the first victory of the week.

Popular Dutch dressage rider Edward Gal and the young stallion Glock’s Zonik (76.68%) claimed the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

The win made a cold, slow journey from The Netherlands, that was beset by delays caused by the wintery weather, worthwhile. It was also an impressive display of horsemanship from Gal and talent from the expressive and elegant nine-year-old Glock’s Zonik, who was competing in just his third ever Grand Prix, and now has two wins and a second place on his CV. Highlights of the test include ground covering half-passes and particularly impressive elastic piaffe and passage.

“The journey here was really no fun at all,” said Gal, a winner of the FEI World Cup qualifier at Olympia in 2009 with the record breaking Totilas, before going on to win the FEI World Cup Final later that season. “We left home at 6am on Sunday and finally arrived in London at 6pm on Monday evening, but this win makes up for all that. I was really happy with Zonik especially as it was his first time in such a big atmospheric arena – this is really promising for the future.”

Swedish Olympian Patrik Kittel, who also endured a marathon journey to London, came a close second with the Oldenburg gelding Delaunay (75.10%). The pair performed a well presented and confident error free test. “I am very happy to be here for the second time,” said Kittel. “London is such a great show.”

Olympia debutant Madeleine Witte-Vrees from The Netherlands was third with the bright chestnut Cennin (73.72%), with whom she made her senior championship team debut in this year’s Europeans, while Emile Faurie and Delatio (72.86%) were the highest placed British combination. It was an impressive competitive Grand Prix debut for the pair, who has only been together for two months.

“Tonight’s Grand Prix was quite a challenge for the judges,” said Stephen Clarke, President of the Ground Jury. “They were many good combinations, some exciting expressive horses and scores that were close together.”

Charlotte Dujardin took to the Olympia Grand Hall for the first time since the retirement of her triple Olympic gold medal winning partner, Valegro, this time last year. Riding Mount St John Freestyle, Charlotte was put through her paces by mentor and Olympic team mate, Carl Hester, to display the key attributes and training methods for producing a champion.

Mount St John Freestyle, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare, nick-named “Mrs Valegro” by Carl during the demonstration, is looking to step up to Grand Prix level next year, with the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games as the target. The composed performance showcased the exceptional talents of both horse and rider, who have already attained several titles together, including the recent Future Elite Championship and the Summer British Dressage National Championship.

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

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

Dressage on the First Coast Kicks Off December Events at Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Shelly Van Den Neste and The Governer SRF. (Photo courtesy of Shelly Van Den Neste)

Jacksonville, FL (December 11, 2017) – The Jacksonville Equestrian Center recently began an eclectic month of events with the Dressage on the First Coast Fall Show this December. The show was put on by the Northeast Florida Dressage Association, and featured nearly 40 classes ranging from Training Level through Grand Prix. Riders competed for top scores in the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s beautiful outdoor show rings.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has been known for years as a host of successful dressage shows in Florida. “The staff was professional and on the ball,” said show manager Carlie Evans. Organizations like the Northeast Florida Dressage Association benefit from the facility’s knowledgeable staff, first-class amenities, over 400 permanent stalls, superior arena footing, and close proximity to major highways, downtown Jacksonville, and sunny Florida beaches.

At the Dressage on the First Coast Fall Show, the horses arrived at the equestrian center for a weekend of fun and friendly competition.  “We received lots of great comments on the facility from the old regulars and a few new people that had never been there before that said they will definitely come back,” said Evans.  Winner of the FEI Freestyle Test of Choice, Shelly Van Den Neste, said that “the Jacksonville Equestrian Center has always been one of my favorite but the outdoor arena is so much better now with the new all-weather footing!”  Van Den Neste rode The Governer SRF to a win with a score of 67.525.  The show included Great American/USDF Regional Qualifying classes, USDF/Dover Adult Amateur Medal Program classes, and a USEF Dressage Level 3 Competition. Now that the show has concluded, the Northeast Florida Dressage Association plans to return to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in March 31 – April 1, 2018, for the Dressage on the First Coast Spring Show.

In an East meets West scenario the Jacksonville Equestrian Center also hosted the Florida Quarter Horse Association (FQHA) Last Chance show in their beautiful 150’ x 300’ indoor arena.  The event featured two days of competition ranging from trail classes to driving for juniors, amateurs and professionals alike.  This show was the last show of the calendar year to earn points and double points towards the year end awards.

The month will finish up with Community Schooling Day on December 27, which horses and riders are welcomed from 10am – 4pm to ride in the state-of-the-art indoor arena for a fee of $10 per rider ($20 if the rider has more than one horse).

Nearly every event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is free to spectators. To find out more about the facility and about upcoming events in December and throughout 2018, please visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4215.

Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Debbie Stegner (904)-255-4215
dstegner@coj.net
13611 Normandy Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221