Tag Archives: Boyd Exell

Sheer Exell-ence at Olympia

The penultimate day of Olympia, The London International Horse Show featured two top-class FEI World Cup™ competitions in Show Jumping and Driving, where the world’s best athletes went head-to-head in thrilling performances which wowed the crowds.

The FEI Driving World Cup™ presented by Eurofip International was once again dominated by Australia’s Boyd Exell in a gripping two round competition, with Koos de Ronde, his closest challenger, over 4 seconds behind.

Earlier in the day, the Longines FEI World Cup™ was won by reigning European Champion and current World No. 2 Martin Fuchs riding The Sinner, whose spectacular jump-off round was over a second faster than Max Kühner in second.

Two runnings of The Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National saw victories for Alfie Diaper riding Damerham Briar Lilly and Leighton Aspell’s daughter Niamh Aspell aboard Magheradartin Beeswax. The Kennel Club Large Agility Stakes Finals was won by Claire Bacon with Tynevermoor Secret Mission and Megan Hunt with A Moment in Thyme.

Three days of flawless and thrilling rounds culminated in victory in the FEI Driving World Cup™ Leg, presented by Eurofip International, for maestro Boyd Exell. “One of the most incredible things was the crowd,” said Boyd. “They are really loud and they are really with us.”

Dutch course designer Jeroen Houterman’s course included twisting but flowing obstacles and cones requiring accurate curving to remain faultless. However, there were plenty of places for gallops as well. “The plan was to keep everything as simple as possible. For most of the course they could go at 90-100% [speed],” said Jeroen. “But when you go too fast, that’s when there is the risk of having a ball.”

That was certainly the case in round one, where over half the field picked up additional time penalties, which decided the three to go forward to the final.

The Netherlands’ Ijsbrand Chardon was first to go. Having driven one of the steadier, but clean, first rounds, he was determined to better his time after an inauspicious start to the show in the first two driving classes. His speed certainly improved, knocking almost six seconds off his initial run’s time. However, this came at the expense of two early balls, leaving the door ajar.

“My first two days at the show were pretty bad,” said Ijsbrand, a multiple championship winner. “My mare Candy was in season at the Budapest show two weeks ago, and still wasn’t great here. I was training at 6am this morning, but it just didn’t work out the way I wanted.”

Following was fellow countryman Koos de Ronde, whose speed in round one gained him access to the drive-off despite having hit cone number two. “Some of the cones were a little tricky and I was mad with myself [in the first round],” he said. “But I was more focused in the second round.”

If the pressure was on multiple medallist Boyd to maintain his rank, he certainly didn’t show it here. However, Koos’ round wasn’t so steady that Boyd could relax. “There was less than a cone between Koos’ time and my time in the first round,” said Boyd, who is based in Valkenswaard in The Netherlands. “So I aimed to go for the same again.” It worked beautifully and secured the win.

Although this class carried points towards qualification for the FEI Driving World Cup™ final, Boyd was competing at Olympia on a Wild Card, so maximum points were passed down to Koos.

Britain’s Daniel Naprous, who has a busy schedule as a stunt rider, finished sixth having had a promising second place at Olympia earlier in the week.

Belgium’s Wilm Vermeir achieved his first Olympia win with a bold display of speed riding in the Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes. Riding King Kong d’Avifauna, Vermeir, who was last to go in the six-horse jump-off, had to throw his heart into the round to take the win.

“I thought they were going faster and faster so I knew I really had to go for it,” Vermeir explained. “This show is unbelievable and it’s not easy to win here.”

Holly Smith, who now heads the Leading Rider of the Show standings from William Whitaker by a 15-point margin, rode a brilliant round on Denver, but Vermeir managed to shave 0.9 of a second off her time of 33.82.

Christian Ahlmann (Zampano Z) and Ben Maher (Ginger-Blue) were also clear to take third and fourth places.

Earlier in the day, Cheshire’s Red Morgan, 15, claimed his biggest win to date with the sole double clear in The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes. Riding Bodyssee des Avelines in the class for 148cm ponies, he remained cool under pressure in both rounds of the exhilarating competition.

“It was a tricky course,” said Red, who is based between Britain and Belgium, where he competes internationally. “The track was tight in places with a tight time, and there was a double you needed to be really straight for.”

Hannah Barker (Ammanvalley Santino) was first of three to go through to the jump-off to challenge for this year’s title. A pole down gave Red the advantage: “I just aimed to be quick without being stupid,” he said. It worked perfectly as he and his 12-year-old mare came home cleanly to put the pressure on the final rider, Lila Bremner (Lapislazuli), who with four faults handed the victory to Red.

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Full Speed Ahead on Race Night at Olympia

Race Night returned to Olympia, The London International Horse Show on day five of the Show, with fast and furious action throughout.

The Markel Jockeys Jumping in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund saw Bridget Andrews’ team of girls beat their male counterparts, including Sir AP McCoy, as a selection of the country’s best jockeys tested their mettle over show jumps. There was further racing action from The Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National, which saw wins for Zak Kent on Briar Smokey Joe and Lucas Murphy riding Cranford Fantastic.

The afternoon performance kicked off with the opening FEI Driving World Cup Leg presented by Eurofip International and, in a repeat of last year, it was Australia’s Boyd Exell who dominated proceedings, thus heading into the second session in pole position.

In Show Jumping, The Father Christmas Stakes, an accumulator class, was won by home favourite William Funnell, with the main class of the day, The Longines Christmas Cracker, going to Ireland’s Darragh Kenny.

The competition was fierce in the FEI Driving World Cup Leg presented by Eurofip International, with drivers aiming to gain maximum points towards their FEI World Cup Final qualification.

First to go was Britain’s Daniel Naprous, whose fast driving has impressed many on the circuit; however, on this occasion 16 seconds to add took him out of contention. Boyd Exell was next into the arena, driving the clean skillful lines for which he is renowned, putting the pressure on those to come.

Jozsef Dobrovitz of Hungary could not match the speed of Exell, but tactical driving kept a clean slate and a good finish at 143.83. Koos de Ronde (NED) took a slick no-nonsense approach to the first course and slotted just behind Exell on 136.49, with last to go, Chester Weber (USA), driving very fast and cleanly to finish third and progress into the drive-off.

An uncharacteristic early error from Weber in the second round resulted in elimination and an enforced third place. Koos de Ronde came in meaning business, but his horses could not catch the speed merchant Exell, whose total score was six seconds ahead of his rivals.

Boyd said: “We went very fast, but the whole team is integral to the success. My navigator and long-time groom Emma Olsson was really important as the course had many twists and turns and, of course, Hugh Scott-Barrett as backstep ensures we get through the cones cleanly. I am happy, but we all work hard to make it happen.”

It was a night for the girls as the female jockeys’ team trounced their male counterparts in an exhilarating battle for the Markel Jockeys Jumping in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. The contest had the packed Olympia audience roaring with excitement as the two teams of five got to grips with borrowed horses and unfamiliar knock-down fences against the clock.

The girls’ team, coached on the night by eventer Pippa Funnell and captained by Bridget Andrews, reversed last year’s result and got off to a brilliant start when Lizzie Kelly flew around clear, including at the final joker fence. Josephine Gordon was fastest of the team, eventually taking second place in the individual rankings behind Jim Crowley, who restored male pride with a flying round.

Nicola Currie also put up a terrific performance and both Bryony Frost, on an enchanting dun Connemara, and team captain Bridget Andrews put in some audacious turns, making up for rails down with their speed. “The girls really performed this year on horses they’ve never sat on,” said Andrews, who married opposing team member Harry Skelton in the summer.

By the time the men’s captain, 20-time National Hunt champion jockey AP McCoy, entered the arena it was all over – which was perhaps just as well, as his mount proved a testing ride.

“The girls were so stylish – they knocked the boys for six and Josephine Gordon was on fire,” said a visibly delighted Pippa Funnell.

“It’s something different and gets the adrenaline going,” said Gordon, “and the fact that we won makes it even better.”

Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Nick Skelton, who may have some words after his son Harry hit the final joker, admitted that the girls’ speed had his lads on the back foot, “but it was great fun and all in a good cause.”

Britain’s William Funnell scored a thrilling win in The Father Christmas Stakes with Denise Stamp’s Cevin Z gelding Billy McCain. The accumulator competition, in which points are gained for each fence jumped clear and a final optional joker fence carrying double points, encouraged risk taking moves throughout, with the joker catching out many of the fastest riders.

“The crowds love fast classes,” said William. “A lot of riders will be looking for the bigger tracks, so a class like this is a good middle ground.”

Of the 32 starters, 13 remained faultless to collect a maximum of 65 points, and although William hadn’t seen some of the fastest go, he clipped almost a second from the previous best time set by Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro aboard Santiago de Blondel.

“He’s normally in with a chance,” said William of the 11-year-old grey. “He’s careful, and it is nice to have a quick horse to bring along to a Show like this.”

Darragh Kenny became the third Irishman to win the big evening class at Olympia when scooping the Longines Christmas Cracker on his exciting Tokyo Olympic prospect Classic Dream. Kenny was the fastest rider in a thrilling eight-man jump-off, beating the Netherlands’ Bart Bles on Gin D by 1.27 seconds.

William Whitaker’s great show continued with equal third place on RMF Echo with Austria’s Max Kühner on Cornet Kalua, ahead of British young rider Harry Charles, who put up a spirited challenge on Borsato, but had a fence down and finished fifth.

Earlier this year, Kenny was third on the nine-year-old Classic Dream behind Ben Maher and the season’s equine phenomenon Explosion W at the London leg of the GCT tour; this was no mean achievement and his rider admits that he is quietly excited about the chestnut gelding’s prospects.

“I’ve known for a couple of years that he was a proper grand prix horse,” explained Kenny, who will ride Classic Dream in Sunday night’s Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “He’s still quite green, but he was exceptional in this jump-off, really picking up, and he’s a horse for the future. He seems to like London anyway!

“I know him inside out and have always thought that he’s a Tokyo horse. He’s a little bit quirky, but he always wants to win.”

Kenny is now seventh on the Leading Rider of the Show rankings, which is led by Britain’s William Whitaker from Holly Smith. The remarkably consistent Michael Jung from Germany, whose first discipline is eventing, is now in third place from Ben Maher, but all could change in the showpiece Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifier.

There was further action from The Voltaire Design Under 25 Championship Qualifier, from which the top 10 riders qualified for the Final on Sunday evening. Georgia Tame rode two immaculate clear rounds to come out on top. “Everyone wants to win this,” said Tame, 22, of the prestigious contest that helped launch former World No. 1 Scott Brash on his path to fame.

She rode with admirable tact on Quintella, a mare that’s talented but clearly not the easiest to handle. “She certainly has her own way of going; you can’t argue with her,” said Tame, having taken over the ride from Shane Breen, with whom she has been based for the past five years.

Only four of the field of 24 went through to the jump-off, with Oliver Fletcher riding Temple Rebus in the only other double clear, finishing in second. Charlie Jones, who is trained by his uncle, Nick Skelton, and Laura Kraut was third on Dexter and Harry Charles was fourth on Valkiry de Zance.

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Irish Eyes Are Smiling Again on Day Four of Olympia

The fourth day of Olympia, The London International Horse Show provided top class sport and entertainment from the outset, with another exceptional day for Great Britain.

William Whitaker, fresh from victory in the Cayenne Puissance, took the opening CSI5* Show Jumping competition of the day, The Shelley Ashman International Shipping Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes, with the Lemieux Six Bar going to Laura Renwick. The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes, the feature class of the evening, was won by Anthony Condon.

Meanwhile, Extreme Driving got underway with a win for World No. 1 Boyd Exell, with Britain’s Daniel Naprous recording his best-ever result in second.

A 20-year-old dressage horse belied his age to win the Olympia Senior Showing & Dressage Championships sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers. Helen Christie’s Silvano KR, ridden by 16-year-old GCSE student Gracie Catling, looked in peak condition to take the laurels. In the in-hand section, the remarkable 32-year-old Hot Fuss, shown by Laura Oughton-Aker, took the honours.

There was fast and furious action from The Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National, with wins for Alfie Diaper riding Damerham Briar Lilly and Nelly Stephens aboard Briar Tiffany. The Kennel Club Dog Agility was a close-run affair with Anthony Clarke and Eliza Doolots of Ashpen winning the afternoon’s Kennel Club Medium Jumping Grand Prix supported by Skinners and Dawn Weaver taking the Kennel Club Medium Agility Stakes Finals supported by Skinners with Galaxy’s Ace of Spades later in the evening.

Popular British rider William Whitaker is on a roll at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. Having shown his mettle over height, taking joint first by clearing 7ft 2in with RMF Charly in the Cayenne Puissance, he proved his competitive versatility with a speed win in the Shelley Ashman International Ltd, E M Rodgers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes by a massive 3 seconds with RMF Chacco Top.

Being drawn in the top half of the field, William, who is based between Germany and the USA, had to set a tough target. The tactic worked and after a number of rivals collected faults trying to chase him others opted for a steadier pace and a safer placing, with Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer riding Cas coming closest to take second place.

“He [RMF Chacco Top] had a couple down yesterday, but he needed to get used to the arena,” said William. “The crowds really help to give you a boost; they are like that right through the show; it’s great.”

The evening performance got underway with another British win in The Lemieux Six Bar. Jumping big fences is all about power and Laura Renwick’s partner Top Dollar VI has that by the bucketload. Clearing the final 1.95m fence with ease, the pair took the win as the only combination to remain faultless after four rounds.

“I hate to say he makes it easy, but the strength he has is special,” said Renwick of the 10-year-old stallion, joking: “I just wish I had a bit more control!”

The class involved the fences being raised in each round, a pole on the floor resulting in elimination. By round four, only four combinations remained. Laura and Top Dollar VI set the standard, producing their faultless run at the final four-fence line as first to go. However, each one of the three that followed – Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Fabregas, Michael Pender (IRE) and Hearton de Bois Halleux, and Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Copain du Perchet – all faulted to hand Renwick the win.

The feature class of the day saw another big win for Ireland as Anthony Condon took the Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes on his own and Pat Hales’ SFS Vincomte with two perfectly judged clear rounds, despite being the class pathfinder.

Condon, who is from Co Waterford but lives on the Shropshire/Cheshire border, was first to go in a competitive field of 33 and made it look easy on the nine-year-old by Veni Vidi Vici. Scott Brash, next to go on Hello Jefferson, also went clear, but then Course Designer Alan Wade’s cleverly designed track began to exert influence with faults evenly spread throughout the course.

Just when it looked like a two-horse jump-off, faultless rounds came for Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels (Delux van T & L), regular US visitor Laura Kraut (Confu), William Whitaker (RMF Echo), and German Olympian Marcus Ehning (Comme II Faut).

Condon’s jump-off time of 38.53 was clearly beatable, but surprisingly, none of the other five could produce a clear round, William Whitaker taking second with the fastest time of 34.48 seconds but a fence down.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, especially looking at the standard of the other riders in the jump-off,” admitted Condon, 32, who will ride SFS Vincomte in Sunday night’s Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “My horse is quite green for this level, but he was more settled today. He just needs more experience and then he will be top class.”

The Irishman, whose three-year-old son Hector was keen to tell Father Christmas about Daddy’s win, is now fourth in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings after two full days of jumping, behind the British trio of Holly Smith, William Whitaker, and Ben Maher. Michael Jung, the reigning Olympic eventing champion, who is paying his first visit to Olympia, is in equal fifth place with Laura Renwick.

The first driving competition took off with a bang, as Boyd Exell cruised home ahead of Daniel Naprous in the Extreme Driving, supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett.

The timed competition, consisting of two rounds with the fastest three going through to the second round to complete a different course against the clock, was an exciting opener to the FEI Driving World Cup classes, which will come later in the week. British driver Daniel Naprous meant business when he entered the arena for the first time, and drove with full power and determination to finish on 133.39 seconds with 4 to count.

This was a momentous occasion for Naprous, who qualified for his first ever drive-off. USA’s Chester Weber, drawn second to go, made an early error but made up for it with some spectacular driving to finish on 144.41 and 4. Last to go, Boyd Exell produced a masterclass of fluidity and speed, finishing the first round on 129.6 with nothing to add to head into the lead.

In the second round, Naprous was quick but paid the price with 12 to add. A steadier round from Weber still resulted in two balls falling for 8 faults; however, Exell’s second drive was foot perfect, driving a clear round in a time of 131.77 seconds to take the victory.

Exell said, “When I walked the course, I knew it could be very fast. Tight turns also meant you had to drive with 100% accuracy, so I’m really pleased with how my team performed.”

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Charlotte Dujardin and Boyd Exell among World’s Best Dressage and Driving Stars Heading to Olympia

Dressage

Britain’s best horse and rider combinations will be gracing the Olympia Grand for the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix and FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music, both supported by Horse & Hound, on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 December.

Triple Olympic gold medalist, Charlotte Dujardin CBE, will be riding her exciting Olympic prospect Mount St John Freestyle, and Carl Hester MBE brings with him his top ride Hawtins Delicato, giving spectators the chance to witness world-class action across the two nights of Dressage competition.

With the 2020 Olympics fast approaching, Olympia will be a pivotal event for competitors, both in terms of preparation and as a crucial opportunity to impress the Team GB selectors. Successful results at the Show could have an impact on team selection for Tokyo next year.

Keen to impress the selectors will be four-time Olympian and former British number one Richard Davison riding Bubblingh, a combination who were part of the winning FEI CDIO5* Nations Cup team in Compiègne earlier this year. He will be joined by teammate from that event, Charlotte Fry, riding the ten-year-old stallion, Everdale. Olympia will also welcome Lara Butler, aboard Rubin Al Asad. The combination was part of the second-placed team in the CDIO3* Nations Cup at Hickstead, where she also won the individual Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle to Music titles. Rounding up a strong British contingent will be Louise Bell and Gareth Hughes, both of whom are having a career-best season, having each broken several personal best scores.

Heading a strong international challenge will be 2018 Olympia victors Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED), who returns with Glock’s Dream Boy N.O.P, the combination which won the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound last year, and Frederic Wandres (GER), who took the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound from Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, despite finishing on the same score.

Following a successful summer, which included victory in the Grand Prix Special at Hickstead, Portugal’s João Miguel Torrao, a pupil of Carl Hester, will also be one to watch, riding his 10-year-old Quo Vadis stallion, Equador.

The full Dressage line-up can be found here.

Driving

With four of the world’s top five Drivers set to take their place in the starting line-up at Olympia, the competition will be hotter than ever.

World No. 1 Boyd Exell returns to the Show seeking to continue where he left off, following his emphatic victory in the FEI Driving World Cup Leg last year. The Australian driver, FEI World Equestrian Games gold medalist at the last three consecutive Games, comes to Olympia on the back of a superb victory in the FEI Driving World Cup of Stuttgart in November.

One of Exell’s closest rival, Dutchman Koos de Ronde, the World No. 4, also returns to the Show, looking to put the pressure on the man who has dominated the sport for so long. Fellow countryman Ijsbrand Chardon, currently ranked third in the world, and runner-up to Exell at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, will be another to provide a significant challenge.

World No. 5, Chester Weber, representing the USA, team gold medalist from the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, will be another to look out for, as will Britain’s Daniel Naprous, famed for his work as a stunt rider in productions such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars, with his trademark tight turns and unwavering pace.

The confirmed Driving entries can be found here.

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The Legendary Boyd Exell Comes Flying Through

Image copyright PSV.

The 2019/2020 season of the FEI Driving World Cup has begun. The very best drivers got together at Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for this first four-horse indoor driving meeting. At the end of a drive-off reserved for the three best teams from the first round, Boyd Exell – the world number one and a true legend in the discipline – won the event with a masterful performance. The Australian combined speed and precision in this spectacular class. He won the event in a time of 142”70, with second place going to the young and promising Dutchman Bram Chardon (26) – who won the FEI World Cup Driving Final last year – in a time of 148”99. Third place went to the Hungarian József Dobrovitz in 173”14.

Leading their four horses with their guiding reins and the sound of their voices, the drivers demonstrated the full potential of their horses and the true teamwork achieved with their grooms. “We had a great day of sport. I competed for a long time against Ijsbrand Chardon. Today, it is his son Bram who has taken over. He is a great competitor and improving each year. It’s great for our discipline: it pushes everyone to get better and it will take elite driving to a new level,” said Boyd Exell, four-time world champion and seven-time FEI World Cup Final winner. The Boyd Exell/Bram Chardon duel has truly started. “This time it was Boyd’s turn to win. Next time, it’ll be mine!” said the young Dutchman, with a smile.

Benjamin Aillaud represented France at the event, with four new horses. “I have gone back to my first love by assembling a new team of Lipizzan horses. The objective is to really make a mark in indoor driving with these horses,” said the Frenchman, who was seventh in the event.

Part of the Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for the second year in a row, four-horse indoor driving was once again a great success on the last day of the show. “We are very proud to host this discipline in Lyon. The audience is really starting to enjoy the discipline. I am really pleased that the best drivers in the world come to compete here;” said Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, before adding: “This year’s Equita Lyon attracted a record number of visitors. All the people involved contributed to making this year’s show a success.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Boyd Exell(s) in Lyon

Image copyright PSV.

For his first appearance at the Longines Equita Lyon, the world number 1 in the discipline confirmed his standing in the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup stage, which will decide the order for the final. This first round, a kind of dress rehearsal for Sunday, allowed the leaders to get their bearings, test their options, and allowed the horses to discover the arena, the atmosphere, the light, and so on. Combining speed and maneuverability, the leaders of the discipline had to go as quickly as possible between the posts, gates, and over a bridge, each fault adding 4 extra seconds to their initial time. Speed and precision are therefore the watchwords in this event. After the first round, the three best teams are measured in a “drive-off”, by adding the two rounds together to give the final ranking of the day. The first to start the drive-off was the Dutchman Koos de Ronde who set the pace with his carriage, crossing the finish line in 313.51 seconds. The challenge was then taken up by the Swiss Jérôme Voutaz and his four Franche-Montagne horses, the holders of the title for the Lyon stage (312.74 sec.). Their fast pace got the crowds on their feet, as they eagerly awaited to see the world’s number one, the Australian Boyd Exell, who was competing for the first time in Lyon. The master did not disappoint the public, performing a quick round with impressive fluidity, placing first in the class (297.48 sec.). “I was surprised by the warmth and enthusiasm of the audience at 9am! This is my first time in Lyon, and I must say that the organisation is brilliant. You get helped when you arrive, and the hotel is really nice. I feel good here. My horses are great. We did the first round without forcing too much and went faster for the second. They are just the best.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Henrik von Eckermann Wins Rolex Grand Prix on Final Day of Royal Windsor Horse Show

The closing day of the 76th edition of Royal Windsor Horse Show was blessed with clear blue skies and bright sun as final victories were secured for the top-class competitors.

The climax of the CSI5* Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix, went to Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann following a nail-biting jump-off. Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Shane Breen took the CSI5* Manama Rose Show Stakes title, and The ClipMyHorse.TV Under 25 Jumping Competition was won by Joseph Stockdale.

Her Majesty The Queen was present for the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett, which premiered at the Show this year. It was Australia’s Boyd Exell, fresh from his win in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, who steered his way across the finish line in the fastest time of 158.83.

Lucy Aspell was crowned winner of the final Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National.

Packed crowds gathered at the Castle Arena for the pinnacle of the week’s action, The Rolex Grand Prix. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou emerged victorious to rapturous applause over course designer Bob Ellis’ challenging course, making a thrilling finale for the Show.

The track demanded bold and precise riding from the field of 34 combinations, including 15 of the world’s top twenty riders, contesting the €500,000 prize, the richest purse ever in UK Show Jumping. The tough course reduced the sensational calibre of talent down to 12 clear combinations to progress to the jump-off.

First to go in the deciding round was British rider William Funnell, whose homebred Billy Diamo demonstrated sheer skill and bravery to keep the partnership’s cool and secure the first double clear round. The pair set the tone for the rest of the competition, having made the decision to go for precision rather than pace, in a time of 47.58 seconds.

William Funnell commented: “It is fantastic, an amazing venue; the crowd was great. It really makes you want to do well. Billy Diamo is another super horse that we have bred; we hope he will qualify for the 2020 Olympics and this year we want to make sure he qualifies for the European Championships, because he is that type of horse.”

Next to go, and also waving the British flag, was Robert Whitaker and 16-year-old Catwalk IV. Despite a strong start the pair was unable to sustain a clear round as the fast pace led to an unlucky pole down, keeping Funnell at the top of the table.

Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet (Spike Van Der Withoeve), already a winner this week and hoping to replicate his success, was the first of several combinations to incur four faults at the Rolex oxer at the last. It was Frenchman Simon Delestre (Hermes Ryan) who was able to successfully challenge Funnell and knock him into second place. Delestre’s carefully navigated turns obtained a clear round in 45.07 seconds; although not the fastest over the ground yet, he was the quickest clear and into the lead. German riders Christian Ahlmann (Take A Chance On Me Z) and Daniel Deusser (Cornet 39) were likely contenders to challenge Delestre’s time. Both competitors were a real threat against the clock; however, they finished with four and eight faults, respectively, keeping Delestre in prime position with five riders to go.

Henrik von Eckermann wasted no time in shaving time off the clock with the 13-year-old mare Toveks Mary Lou. A tight turn into the penultimate fence and speed into the last oxer shaved over two seconds off Delestre’s time to finish on 43.02 seconds and snatch first place. With two to go, including two Olympic medallists, von Eckermann had confirmed a top three position but faced the toughest competition yet, leading to a nail-biting conclusion to the Rolex Grand Prix.

Eric Lamaze, who secured his place in the jump-off with great form, would no doubt be one of the strongest contenders for pace. However, the Canadian rider had a pole down at the second and the last fence with Chacco Kid. This meant the results of the competition were in the hands of Kent Farrington (USA), a two-time winner at Royal Windsor Horse Show, and Creedance.

The former World Number One and his chestnut gelding Creedance, seemed to be the likely winners as the pair presented one of the most striking rides of the jump-off, until an unexpected error at the last resulted in four faults to confirm von Eckermann the winner.

The victorious von Eckermann said: “Mary Lou is such a fantastic horse; she is so quiet at home but when she gets to shows, she really comes to life and gets very excited. She has a fantastic mind; she always helps me and really wants to make it; that’s what makes her such a special horse. I haven’t competed here for 10 years, so it is great to be back! The crowd was amazing, and I have really enjoyed my time at this event. I definitely hope to be back next year to defend the title!”

Bathed in glorious sunshine, the final day’s showing at Royal Windsor lifted the spirits of competitors, officials, and spectators alike, and saw several riders and owners achieve first-ever wins here in the Castle grounds.

In working hunter pony ranks — another prestigious feature of the show — the top spot went for the first time to Leyla Wheelright and her 143cm winner, Star Smokey, who jumped a superb round over a tricky course which claimed many notable scalps. This combination recently stood restricted champions at the British Show Pony Society winter championships.

The reserve award stayed in the same class, going to in-form Alice Homer, 17 — winner of the working show horse class earlier in the week — and Comberton Coda.

Cheshire-based showman Robert Walker, who clocked up four class wins and two championships on day one, received another red rosette when the Wallace family’s exciting large riding horse prospect, Southills The Sorcerer, headed a quality field.

The title, though, upset the formbook when Danielle Heath was called forward with the Mears family’s six-year-old novice champion, Times Square, pipping the super-consistent Casino and Jayne Ross. A seven-year-old show pony bought just two weeks ago gave veteran owner Gita Jago her first Royal Windsor open show pony title since 1992.

The final cones phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix was not without its changes of fortunes. In the Horse Four-in-Hand, serially successful Dutch driver, Ijsbrand Chardon, posted the first double clear, putting pressure on the five drivers ahead of him. In third place, his fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde, winner of the marathon, kept a cool head and collected the only other double clear to secure his position in the top three.

Lying second, expectations on Ijsbrand Chardon’s son, Bram – 2019 FEI World Cup™ Champion – were high but he unexpectedly clipped the marker to cones 19 as he made a turn earlier in the course. For this he collected 3 penalties and a 10-sec handicap which dropped him behind de Ronde.

With nine penalty points in hand, Boyd Exell from Australia drove a measured round, uncharacteristically knocking down two cones and collecting time faults. His final score, however, was sufficient to secure him his tenth title at Royal Windsor.

“It has been a hard-working few days,” Boyd remarked. “However, I’m very pleased with the new six-year-old in the team; he did all three phases, and this is only his second competition. This was his first cones course.”

The first class of the day, Pony Four-in-Hand, saw a dramatic change in the order. Lying fourth GB’s Roger Campbell delivered a double clear. The two competitors ahead of him at this time – Jaqueline Walter (GER) and Tinne Bax (BEL) – both made mistakes, dropping them behind Campbell. In first place, Jan de Boer, from the Netherlands, looking for his eighth win here, had 15+ penalties in hand at this stage. Sadly, it proved not enough and a difficult round for him and his Welsh ponies saw him drop behind Roger by less than one penalty point. This gave GB their first Pony Four-in-Hand win since 2000.

“My overwhelming emotion at the moment is surprise!” Campbell remarked. “I wouldn’t say the weekend went entirely to plan – I had a few problems in the dressage and then made some rein-handling mistakes in the marathon. Today, however, was excellent.”

This was GB’s first win in Pony Four-in-Hand for a number of years, but sadly Campbell, who is based in Germany, is unlikely to compete on home turf for the rest of the season, planning to attend events in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.

Double clear rounds eluded all Horse Pair competitors, with Germany claiming first and second place. Overnight leader, Sandro Koalick, competing here for the first time, retained his top spot with his young Dutch Warmbloods. At seven and eight years old, it is the first international season for one of them and the second for the other. His fellow countryman, 2017 winner here, Lars Schwitte, moved up to second place ahead of France’s Franck Grimonprez.

In the Nations competition, the Netherlands increased their lead to retain first place well clear of France, who moved ahead of third placed Belgium. Just three penalty points separated these two.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

An Exell-ent Day for the FEI Driving World Cup

FEI Driving World Cup™ Presented by Dodson & Horrell was won by Australia’s Boyd Exell in a gripping two round competition.

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was won by Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Cornet.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Archie Gubb riding Gruntness Inogee and the evening performance by Poppy Dadson riding Merkisayre Sea Duble.

The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals was won by multiple Olympia champion Natasha Wise and Pebbles.

Exell Sets the Standard Again

The world’s most outstanding four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell, crowned an exemplary week of Extreme and FEI World Cup™ driving competition with a win in the final round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ presented by Dodson & Horrell.

“I’m so pleased with my horses,” the Australian driver and trainer said. “Five years ago I had a superb team and I’ve spent the intervening years trying to replicate it. With the two new horses I’ve recently put in to the mix, I feel I’m really getting close. They just get faster and faster.”

Experienced Dutch driver Koos de Ronde, who has competed every year since driving became part of the Olympia programme, was Exell’s closest challenger after the first round, with Belgian Glenn Geerts in third place.

These three returned for a drive-off, which got off to a dramatic start when one of Geerts’ horses slipped turning to come off the bridge. Driving is a close-knit community and fellow competitors flew to help; happily, all four horses were up in moments and the Olympia crowd showed their appreciation by giving Geerts a standing ovation.

Quickly regaining his focus, de Ronde drove a proficient round, bettering his time but picking up a 4-second penalty. Exell again put his foot to the floor to drive his fourth clear round, knocking three seconds off his first-round time to take the victory and extend his lead in the rankings.

“Olympia was very brave to agree to stage this competition eight years ago, but it has been so well supported by Dodson & Horrell and Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett. The drivers love it; it’s a highlight of the World Cup calendar and it’s an honour to be here.”

British competitor Daniel Naprous, whose stunt work can be seen in Wonder Woman, The Crown, and Peaky Blinders, has steadily improved his times during the week and finished fifth overall.

Cornet Hits a High Note

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the world number seven, set a fast pace in the jump-off of The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes to take the class on the 14-year-old grey Cornet, by the leading jumping sire Cornet Obolensky.

This class bucked the trend, with only four through to the jump-off. First to go, Deusser, who rides for Stephex Stables in Belgium, set a fast pace with a clear in 31.25 seconds. Simon Delestre for France on Conbelleza also left all the fences up but was fractionally slower in 32.07 seconds.

Maikel van der Vleuten was third for the Netherlands on Idi Utopia and William Funnell, who has now moved up to second place behind Geir Gulliksen in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings, was fourth on Billy Diamo.

“I expected there to be more clear rounds, but the track had lots of bends off corners and that seemed to be causing trouble,” explained Deusser, who will ride Cornet d’Amour in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “Cornet is one of my top horses, but sometimes it’s nice to drop him into a smaller height competition so that it’s easy for him.”

The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes

Earlier in the day, Shaunie Greig travelled all the way from Fife to add a win in The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes to her list of prestigious 148cm victories. Riding Casino Royale VIII, she produced the sole double clear of the class.

Shaunie, 15, was the fifth of the six riders to go in the jump-off and, with no faultless performers before her, there was everything to play for.

“I was aiming for the win, so I needed to go clear, but not too crazy,” she said. “I had watched Purdi Digby [who was first to go] so I knew where to go on the course.”

Nicole Lockhead Anderson riding Gangnam Style ll finished second with a fence down.

Tribute to the Late Tim Stockdale

Saturday came to a moving close with the Whitaker family’s annual presentation of the Ryan’s Son Trophy for services to the sport. This year, with many of his colleagues looking on, it was presented posthumously to Tim Stockdale whose wife Laura and sons Joe and Mark were there to collect it.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

McCoy and His Boys Prove They’re the Real Deal

An eager crowd was treated to an action-packed fifth day at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. The first Show Jumping competition of the day saw 18-year-old Robert Murphy produce a sublime performance going double-clear and securing a memorable victory in The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship Final. A faultless Boyd Exell was once again on majestic form, finishing just under 30 seconds ahead of eventual second-placed Driver, Belgian Glenn Geerts. British riders dominated The Keith Prowse Father Christmas Stakes, with William Whitaker, William Funnell, Ben Maher, and Guy Williams taking the top four places, respectively.

In a first for Olympia Horse Show, a team of five top-class female jockeys took on their male counterparts in the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund – a fast and furious Show Jumping team relay competition. The Boys’ Team – with stand-out rides from Richard “Dickie” Johnson and Jim Crowley – did just enough to beat the Girls’ Team by a combined time of little under eight seconds, while Girls’ Team captain Bridget Andrews earned a consolation winning the prize for the quickest round.

The evening drew to a close with The Longines Christmas Cracker. Out of a field of 28 competitors, 13 jumped a clear first round and progressed to the jump-off, which then saw a further six pairs jump double clear. While Holly Smith (Claddagh Iroko) and Laura Kraut (Confu) put themselves firmly in contention, it was Robert Whitaker and his nine-year-old bay mare El Wee Widge who rose to the occasion, crossing the finish line in an unbeatable time of 34.51 seconds.

Jenny Kimber and Rogue took the honours in The Kennel Club Large Novice Dog Agility Finals on the third evening of canine competition at Olympia. After a fantastic qualifying round win, Naarah Cuddy and Lemon were last to run in the Final. The pressure was on for the pair to beat a fast and accurate round set by Jenny Kimber and Rogue, but an unfortunate early fault dashed their title hopes. The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Zak Kent and Briar Smokey Joe, while the evening performance was won by Lucy Aspell and Magheradartin Beeswax.

Jockeys Go Flat Out for Charity

The Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) proved a huge crowd pleaser when, for the first time, five female jockeys, including recent big-race winner Bryony Frost, took on their male counterparts against the clock over the coloured poles in the unfamiliar environment of a densely packed indoor arena.

The fiercely competitive Boys’ Team, trained by Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton and captained by 20-time champion Sir “AP” McCoy with champion jockeys Richard Johnston and Ryan Moore, were victorious with a collective time of 151.16 seconds against the girls’ 159.11, but it was Bridget Andrews who was fastest of all, upholding female honour with the prize for the quickest round, in 33.88 seconds.

Her fiancé, Harry Skelton, caused great hilarity when, last to go for the Boys’ Team and riding one of Laura Kraut’s jumpers, he suffered tack malfunction when the hackamore bridle ended up around the horse’s ears. Not to be defeated, he set off again, after some hasty repairs with a cable tie, but the same thing happened so he borrowed a teammate’s horse.

However, Harry had to settle for the third fastest time of 35.85 seconds behind flat jockey Jim Crowley. “The wedding’s still on,” announced commentator Clare Balding. Harry promised: “We’ll be back next year – with better tack.”

The jockeys were clearly thoroughly enjoying their Christmas party, but IJF president AP was quick to thank Olympia for giving the charity this great fund-raising platform. Next year, a third rehabilitation centre, named after the late commentator Sir Peter O’ Sullevan, will open in Newmarket.

Exell Is in the Driving Seat

Boyd Exell, the reigning world champion in Carriage Driving, laid down the strongest possible marker for the final of the FEI Driving World Cup™ leg, presented by Dodson & Horrell, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

In a display that left spectators breathless, the defending champion, who is competing here on a wild card, was second into the arena behind British hopeful Dan Naprous, who had driven a well-controlled clear round.

Exell, too, went clear but knocked 15 seconds off Naprous’s time and no one thereafter could come close; American driver Chester Weber suffered the disappointment of being eliminated for missing the first obstacle. Belgium’s Glenn Geerts claimed second place and the vastly experienced Koos de Ronde from the Netherlands was third.

In the drive-off between the first three, de Ronde bettered his first-round time but collected 12 seconds in penalties. Geerts also bettered his time, but his additional eight-second penalties gave the Australian maestro breathing space.

However, he had no need of it. In an electrifying drive, he knocked eight seconds off his first round time to romp into first place, 30 seconds ahead of Geerts and de Ronde.

“I’ve put two new horses into my team – one in the lead and one in the wheel – and they’ve moved the speed up like you cannot believe,” Exell explained. “They were machines today – I could not be more pleased with them, although, of course, tomorrow is the all-important competition.”

There was a great boost for British driving when Naprous, who was also previously performing at Olympia as leader of the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Display Team, was the only other driver to go clear – he only missed the drive-off by two seconds.

Robert Whitaker Produces a Christmas Cracker

An Olympia victory was just what the doctor ordered when, two weeks after having his appendix removed, Robert Whitaker produced a masterful performance in a 13-horse jump-off for Friday’s main class, The Longines Christmas Cracker.

His winning mount was the relatively inexperienced nine-year-old El Wee Widge, owned by his uncle, Michael Whitaker.

“I just said to Michael: ‘I’m going to have a bit of a go’ as the horse likes to go forward,” said Robert, who took over the ride when his uncle was injured, finishing second in a major class at Oslo Show. “I went to Michael and said that I was really short of horses and he kindly let me have El Wee Widge.”

Laura Kraut, a world team gold medallist this year, came closest to catching Robert – she was just 0.4 seconds slower on the grey Confu, beating young British rider Holly Smith on Claddagh Iroko by a mere 10th of a second.

Keeping it in the family, Robert’s father John had the crowd roaring in excitement, but he lost time trying to keep the mare Leen O.L. on her line and had to settle for fourth place.

Earlier, to the delight of the packed home crowd, Robert’s cousin, William Whitaker, riding Lammy Beach, topped a British one-two-three-four in the Keith Prowse Father Christmas Stakes, an accumulator class against the clock. A final tricky joker fence gives double points if jumped cleanly, but is double the penalty if knocked down.

“It’s like you’re riding in a speed class, but then have that big last fence to think about,” explained William, who represented Britain at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ this year. “I had a lot of quick ones to come after me so I had to take a few risks and got away with it. I wanted one stride less to one fence, and I didn’t get it, so I knew I had left some room for others to catch me.”

The buzzing atmosphere suited the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding. “The closeness of the crowd doesn’t suit some horses, but it really makes him light up,” said William. “I am really happy with this horse and it is a real privilege to ride here.”

With two more days to go, Norway’s Geir Gulliksen is currently Leading Rider of the Show with five placings, pushing Darragh Kenny from Ireland into second. William Funnell, who has been runner-up three times, is third.

Robert Murphy and Chablis Are the Toast

The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship Final ended on a thrilling high note when, last to go in an eight-horse jump-off, 18-year-old Robert Murphy rode an audacious round on Newbridges Chablis to overhaul the brilliant early target set by Harry Charles, 21, on Vivaldi du Dom.

This prestigious class, which has been won by the likes of Scott Brash and Jessica Mendoza, gets stronger every year, the bulk of the field being represented by the talented sons and daughters of such well-known horsemen such as Michael Whitaker, Graham Fletcher, Mike Saywell, Duncan Inglis, Peter Charles, the late Tim Stockdale, and Badminton Horse Trials course-designer Eric Winter.

Robert, the son of former leading jumper Peter Murphy, set a scorching pace, confidently taking out strides and turning on a sixpence, to snatch the win from Harry by 0.5 seconds.

“There were a few options, but you had to take risks – I tried to mimic Harry’s round,” explained Robert, who was presented with the Tim Stockdale Trophy in memory of the much-loved rider who died last month.

Last year, Newbridges Chablis hit three fences, but Robert, whose aim for 2019 is to get into the Young Rider team, explained: “He’s quite a sensitive horse and he didn’t settle well in the stable, but he’s had some more mileage since then and things were quite different this time.”

Eight riders went through to the jump-off. Jodie Hall McAteer’s spirited challenge on Fantom, clear in 31.1 seconds, was good enough for third place behind Charles, whose brilliant year continues.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Breen Swoops to Claim the Ivy Stakes

The crowds on day four of Olympia, The London International Horse Show were treated to some exhilarating Driving and Show Jumping performances, breathtaking displays from Santi Serra, La Garde Républicaine, The Kennel Club Dog Agility, and the Shetland Ponies, while more than 40 junior and senior medallists from Equestrian Team GBR took part in a very special parade in the Grand Hall.

Australian Boyd Exell demonstrated to Olympia’s admiring crowd precisely why he is the current and five-time world champion for four-in-hand Driving, putting on a masterful display in the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving – Top Score. Exell navigated the Johan Jacob-designed course with aplomb, completing the first round fault-free and more than 13 seconds ahead of his closest challengers, Dutchman Koos de Ronde and Belgian Edouard Simonet. With Simonet and de Ronde accruing four and eight-second penalties respectively in the drive-off, Exell showed his class, cruising over the finish line 10 seconds ahead of eventual second-placed driver Simonet.

The final event of the evening, The Ivy Stakes sponsored by Champagne Taittinger, proved to be a star-studded event, with six of the world’s top-10 ranked Show Jumpers vying for victory. But it was Irishman Shane Breen – currently 55th in the world rankings – who took the spoils. With 15 horse and rider combinations successfully navigating the Bernardo Costa Cabral-designed course and progressing to the jump-off, it was Breen who ultimately excelled, effortlessly steering his 13-year-old chestnut stallion fault-free around the demanding jump-off course in an unbeatable time of 33.41 seconds. Hot on Breen’s heels was Swiss maestro Steve Guerdat (Corbinian), who slotted into second spot just half a second off the pace, while third placed Norwegian Geir Gulliksen (Gin Chin van het Lindenhof) was a further second back.

This Kennel Club Medium Dog Agility Finals was won by Dawn Weaver from Dorset and her dog, Vegas, with the pair putting in the fastest clear round of the evening. Judge Martin Cavill put handlers through their paces resulting in only two dogs making it around the course without faults.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Lucas Murphy and Shelcroft Buttercup, while the evening performance was won by Daisy Harrop and Cranford Fantastic.

The Olympia Senior Showing Series Championships sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers saw Alice Stratton and the 17-year-old Welsh Section B Laithehill Pasha – last year’s in-hand winners in the Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd Grand Final sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers – take the title in the under saddle final. Claire Langman’s ex-racehorse, New Team, won the in-hand class.

Boyd Exell Puts On a Show

The crowd was treated to a spectacular start to the afternoon performance when Boyd Exell from Australia put on a masterclass in four-in-hand skills in the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving – Top Score, which determines the order of go in the World Cup competition. Exell, the reigning World Cup champion, was last to go of the seven contestants from six nations and finished the first round with 13 seconds in hand.

Second at this stage was the experienced Dutch competitor, Koos de Ronde, but his outstandingly fast round unfortunately included four knockdowns to add 16 seconds to his time. In third was young Belgian driver Edouard Simonet, a team and individual bronze medallist at the FEI World Equestrian Games™, who also went clear.

In the drive-off, Simonet and de Ronde both picked up penalties to reverse their positions. Exell again drove surely and cleanly until the very end where he picked up a four-second penalty, but he still cruised home 10 seconds ahead of Simonet.

The fast course set by Dutch designer Johan Jacob featured a new four-way crossing on the bridge with the start and finish occurring here. Newly designed elements in the obstacles gave a lighter appearance to the course and made for good viewing.

Britain’s Dan Naprous, who heads up the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Team, experienced early difficulties, as did the USA’s Chester Weber, the world silver medallist.

Hawk Swoops to Conquer

Shane Breen gave a masterclass in cool-headed speed jumping to win Thursday’s main class, The Ivy Stakes sponsored by Champagne Taittinger, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

Breen, riding the 13-year-old Golden Hawk, was first to go in a marathon 15-horse jump-off, but no one could match his clear in 33.41 seconds, and the run of Irish luck continued after compatriot Darragh Kenny’s double.

In an international line-up, the 2012 Olympic champion Steve Guerdat finished second for Switzerland, 0.5 seconds in arrears on Corbinian. Geir Gulliksen was third for Norway on Gin Chin van het Lindenhof, formerly the ride of Ireland’s Bertram Allen, and riders from Portugal, France, and the Netherlands filled the next four places with Ben Maher the best Brit in eighth place.

Amazingly, this is Breen’s first full week at Olympia (he has competed in the Puissance before) and he revealed that the victory had cost him four watches – thinking it unlikely, he promised four children that he would buy them one each if he was successful.

“It looked a tricky enough jump-off course, but the horse got in a nice rhythm and it came my way,” said Breen.

The Gulliksen family have been long supporters of Olympia, so a first win for 22-year-old Johann-Sebastien Gulliksen in the Christmas Stocking Six Bar proved popular.

Four riders made it through to the fourth round, at 1.90m, but Gulliksen, riding the 13-year-old Arakorn, was the only one to go clear, as Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts (H & M Extra) withdrew, Britain’s William Whitaker (Fandango) hit a fence, and Italy’s Luca Maria Moneta on a spooky Centimo retired after a refusal.

Gulliksen, who has been accompanying his father, Geir, to Olympia since a small child, said his horse had jumped 1.95m in Madrid a few weeks ago. “He really tries his best. It’s unbelievable to win here at Olympia. The crowd really gives you an emotional feeling.”

German Olympic rider Christian Ahlmann had a pleasant surprise in The Shelley Ashman International Shipping Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes when a horse that has only been jumping for a year carried him to victory in this speed class.

Atomic Z, a breeding stallion until last year, lacks the ring experience of other horses, but showed just how quick a learner he is when his round was fast enough to beat Britain’s William Funnell (Billy Angelo) by two seconds.

“It wasn’t planned at all,” said Ahlmann, “but when I went in, he felt so good that I went a bit quicker, and then a bit quicker still, because he is very flexible.”

Darragh Kenny is currently Leading Rider of the Show, with Geir Gulliksen second, Dutchman Doron Kuipers third, and William Funnell fourth.

A major highlight of the evening was the parade of British team medallists – British teams combined to bring back 24 championship medals this summer – headed by the gold medal eventing team. Individual world champion Ros Canter was presented with the BEF Medal of Honour, along with carriage driver Jill Holah and Para-Dressage selector Waveney Luke.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355