Victor Bettendorf (LUX) riding Big Star des Forets @RoyalWindsorHorseShow/Peter Nixon
Day Three of Royal Windsor Horse Show continued with an action-packed schedule. Showing classes continued with multiple Championships taking place, the International Show Jumping commenced with two CSI5* classes, and the Coaching Marathon concluded in the Castle Arena following their drive around Windsor Castle’s Home Park. Meanwhile, in the stunning grounds of Windsor Great Park, Royal Windsor Endurance supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain featured CEI1*, CEI2*, and CEI3* competitions.
International Show Jumping got underway with The CSI5* Defender Stakes, where 32 of the world’s best horse and rider combinations tackled Bernardo Costa Cabral’s masterfully designed course. Held as a two-phase competition at 1.45m, riders had to ensure a clear round over the first eight fences to continue on to the latter half of the course against the clock.
Third to go was Ben Maher riding Explosion W, the combination who won individual gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Maher, who missed the early part of the season due to injury, showed no sign of lack of competition practice to produce a brilliant round with the stunning chestnut gelding to set an early standard of 37.81 seconds. His lead, however, was quickly usurped by the next combination into the arena, France’s Olivier Perreau and GI Event Venizia d’Aiguilly.
With 18 double clears in total, the leaderboard was in constant flux, with some of the most exciting up-and-coming young riders, including Joseph Stockdale, Harry Charles, and Jodie Hall McAteer, making it through to the second round. British Show Jumping legend, John Whitaker, once again proved that he is still one to beat when he took the lead aboard his chestnut stallion, Green Grass. However, it was Royal Windsor Horse Show first-timers, Luxemburg’s Victor Bettendorf and Big Star des Forets, who claimed the top spot with an electric round in the time of 26.65 seconds. Bettendorf was closely followed in second by Britain’s Matthew Sampson, with Portugal’s Duarte Seabra in third.
Speaking on his win, Bettendorf stated: “It is my first time here. It’s an unbelievable show because you really feel the soul of the crowd; they know the horses, and for us riders it’s great to be in front of spectators that know about our sport. My horse is very competitive – she is extremely fast and careful. I am very excited about her future.”
Later in the day, attention turned to the CSI5* Pearl Stakes. Once again, some of the most elite Show Jumpers in the world entered the Castle Arena with the aim of taking home this coveted prize.
The first round proved difficult, with the only clear before the break coming from 21-year-old British rider Lily Attwood. Attwood, who has had an extremely successful youth career, showed skill and agility around the challenging course with the 13-year-old gelding Cor-Leon Vd Vlierbeek Z. France’s Olivier Perreau then also executed a foot-perfect round to secure the second place in the jump-off. Disappointment came for numerous combinations, who after jumping clear over the fences gained time penalties; this included two of Britain’s FEI World Championship bronze medal winning team Ben Maher and Joseph Stockdale. Fourth last to go, Portugal’s Duarte Seabra continued his form from earlier in the day to join the exclusive group of clears, as did Belgium’s Koen Vereecke and Jana Wegers with her trusted partner Limbridge.
Germany’s Jana Wergers took the decision not to contest the second round, therefore with only four combinations jumping, it was all to play for. Lily Attwood went in first, with a stylish and fast clear round to set the time to beat of 34.54 seconds, adding pressure to the following riders. Olivier Perreau and Koen Vereecke both followed suit with classy clears but could not match the time set by Attwood, with Duarte Seabra picking up four faults. Attwood consequently secured the pinnacle Show Jumping Class of the day and etched her name into the Royal Windsor Horse Show history books.
Attwood exclaimed: “I’m absolutely delighted: to be at your home show and have a win on the first day is such a great feeling. This is my first 5* win – it’s a great place to do it and definitely up there with one of the best wins of my career. My horse tries his best every single time – it is only his third show back in six months. I am delighted with him.”
Robert Walker continued his amazing – and now unequalled – run of form to land both The Novice Hunter Championship, supported by Company Meta Lounge Limited, and The LeMieux Open Hunter Championship, scoring in the former with Jill Day’s super-impressive four-year-old Full Cry, a jumping-bred Irish gelding. His LeMieux Open Champion was MHS Morning Master – now eight – who won the In-Hand Supreme at Horse of the Year Show as a youngster and faced stiff competition here.
Also from Cheshire, Danielle Heath repeated last year’s result to land The Count Robert Orssich Hack Championship with the Mears family’s large winner, Forgelands Hyde Park, who again floated along without turning a hair in the buzzing Castle Arena finale.
The Martin Collins Enterprises Cob Championship cemented a fairytale week for Essex-based birthday-girl Janay Atherden, who added this overall title to the Coloured Championship she won with her superb gelding, Red Rock III. Reserve in this 10-strong finale went to seasoned campaigner Jayne Ross with Lisette Roberts’ exciting Novice victor, Randalstown Aristocrat.
One of the most popular winners of the day though was 76-year-old regular Windsor contender Avril Bartolomy, from Sussex, who headed a strong class in The Martin Collins Enterprises Amateur Cob with her new prospect, Epithemeus, sourced as an unbroken raw youngster by Cob specialist Lynn Russell.
Over in the Driven Dressage Arena, the CAIO4* and CAI3* International Driving Grand Prix got underway with the Dressage phase. The feature class of the day was the FEI Driving World Cup™ Outdoor Four-In-Hand Dressage, the first of the three phases that make up the event. Competition was fierce as World No. 1, Boyd Exell, representing Australia – already an 11-time winner at Royal Windsor – took to the arena. Exell masterfully manoeuvred his team to secure the lead. Completing the top three was Chester Weber, the 20-time US National Champion, and Germany’s Anna Sandmann.
Royal Windsor Endurance supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain took place in Windsor Great Park. A total of 61 riders set out into the Park at the crack of dawn, and the routes took in iconic sites, including the Copper Horse, the Philip Jackson equestrian statue of Queen Elizabeth II, The Long Walk, and Smith’s Lawn.
In the CEI3* 160km, Fares Ahmad Al Mansoori (UAE) won the ride on Eddy De Montrozier in a total time of 07:52:25. The CEI2* 120km was won by Saeed Mohd Ibrahim Al Baloushi (UAE) riding Alshemaime in a total time of 05:15:03; the highest placed British rider in the class was Nikki Thorne (GB) who finished 8th riding L.I. Wallonia. The CEI1* 100km was won by Musaab Mohammad Ahmad Belqaizi Al Falasi (UAE) on Ebene Du Barthas AA in a total time of 05:31:00, and the highest placed British rider in the class was Alex Powell riding Pope who finished in 9th place.
Video of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3tbPpBHacI
To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.
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Niki McEwen / rEvolution / firstname.lastname@example.org