Tag Archives: Driving

A Record-Breaking Year for CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show

Royal Windsor Horse Show (8-12 May) is set to become the UK’s richest show for competitors by offering a record-breaking prize fund at the country’s largest horse show. Showcasing a star-studded line-up in its spectacular setting, the increased prize fund and new additions to the event reaffirm its prominence in the global equestrian calendar and popularity amongst fans.

The annual Show, which has witnessed some truly special moments over the years, combines the highest level of sporting action with an unforgettable shopping and gastronomic experience, and a host of thrilling live entertainment.

World-Class Equestrian Action

Having grown in both stature and importance year-on-year, Royal Windsor remains the only UK event to host first-class international competitions in four of the eight FEI disciplines: Dressage, Carriage Driving, Endurance, and Show Jumping, helping to attract some of the biggest names in equestrian sport, including Olympic, World, and European champions.

Having drawn in six of the world’s top 10 riders in 2018, including the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix and the current world number one ranked show jumper, Steve Guerdat, the heightened status of competition is expected to draw in the world’s best horse and rider combinations in Show Jumping to date. This year’s CSI5* Show Jumping will be held on 10-12 May, culminating with the most prestigious competition, the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 12 May. History will be made in Windsor this year as it was announced that the Grand Prix’s prize fund has been increased from €300,000 to a staggering €500,000, bringing the total prize fund to €875,000.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash, who will be aiming to emulate Guerdat’s performance last year, commented: “Royal Windsor is like no other Show; it’s set in one of the most spectacular outdoor settings, and attracts an incredibly knowledgeable and informed show jumping crowd. Having such a strong line-up of world-class competitors each year really reflects the Show’s growth and importance. I believe spectators will be in for something special this year and I really look forward to competing.”

Taking centre-stage on the evenings of Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May, and adding to the event’s international-standing, will be the Al Shira’aa CDI4* Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music. Having previously welcomed a stellar line-up of entries, the Castle Arena expects to host the most dominant forces in Dressage, including Charlotte Dujardin CBE and Carl Hester MBE.

New to the event and adding a splash of invigorating up-and-coming talent to the line-up will be the Pony Club Dressage Championships and the Under 25 Show Jumping competition. Taking place on Friday 10 May and Sunday 12 May, respectively, stars of the future will be going for gold beneath the iconic Windsor Castle in two tightly fought competitions featuring the most talented young equestrians in the country.

One of the most popular events of the week, the high-octane CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, firmly stands as the one of the UK’s most important Driving events, giving competitors the opportunity to qualify for the FEI World Cup™ Final. Created by The Duke of Edinburgh in the 1970s, the event takes place over four days of the Show and consists of three-phases: Driven-Dressage, the Marathon, and Cone Driving.

On Friday 10 May Windsor Great Park will host the ultimate test for horse and rider – the CEI2* Royal Windsor Endurance Ride. Set around 120km of beautiful Windsor and Ascot countryside, it is one of the most picturesque long-distance rides in the UK.

As the most important Showing competition in the UK, the event kicks off the Showing season with over 120 classes enticing thousands of competitors from across the country. With several new additions to the already extensive programme, including the in-hand pure bred Arab and part bred Arab class, and the Cleveland Bays, which brings Britain’s oldest breed of horse to the showground, it is expected to be the most competitive year yet. All eyes will be on Her Majesty The Queen and her horses, as she attempts to reproduce some of her long list of successes at the Show.

Displays and Performances

Along with the top equestrian sport on offer, ticket holders will be treated to exceptional entertainment across the five-day event. International displays include The Hungarian Csikós, Stunt riders from Azerbaijan, and performers from Oman. From home, The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The Household Cavalry Mounted Band, and The Musical Drive of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will take centre stage in the Castle Arena throughout the week.

Adding some grassroots action and drama to the week’s performances will be the Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National and the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games. As firm favourites among crowds, the young age of these competitors will be no reflection of their bravery as they throw themselves into explosive races much to the delight of the spectators.

The Pageant

On the evenings of the 9, 10 & 11 May, Royal Windsor Horse Show will host The Pageant 2019, a musical feast of entertainment which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. The 90-minute show will encompass everything from the Music Hall, the Industrial Revolution, Gilbert and Sullivan, Charles Dickens, and our military heritage (The Crimean War and The Great Game). More information about The Pageant 2019 can be found online here.

To book tickets for Royal Windsor Horse Show or The Pageant, visit www.rwhs.co.uk or www.windsorpageant.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 0755 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966 290 internationally. Windsor residents should call the Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743 589.

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

Live Oak International: Ten Things to Know

Allison Stroud’s four-in-hand competes at the 2018 Live Oak International. Photo: Bianca McCarty.

Live Oak International, which takes place March 7-10 in Ocala, Fla., offers world-class competition in two sports: driving and jumping. The driving event is one of the largest driving competitions in the United States, and the jumping competition, the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala, is part of the prestigious North American League. But there’s a lot more to know about this unique competition. We’ve got you covered with 10 fast facts, including live stream information and how to buy tickets to attend in person.

By US Equestrian Communications

Opportunity Knocks with FEI World Championships 2022 Bid Process

Lausanne (SUI), 13 February 2019 — While 2019 is set to be another busy year for international horse sport, potential bidders are already vying for the possibility of hosting FEI World Championships in 2022. The FEI has already received some exciting expressions of interest for 2022, with more submissions expected before the 28 February deadline.

“I am delighted to say that the level of interest and the quality of submissions to host FEI World Championships in 2022 has been very high so far, and we are confident that we will have an interesting pool of candidates to choose from when the allocations are made later this year,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

The FEI initiated a bid process for individual FEI World Championships in all disciplines for 2022 at the FEI General Assembly in Manama (BRN) in November last year.

The FEI President stressed at the time that this does not necessarily mean the end of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ concept, and bids to host the full seven disciplines together for 2022 will be considered.

The FEI Board unanimously approved the opening of a bidding process for individual world championships in all disciplines for 2022, with preference being given to multi-discipline bids. The Board also agreed that ideally the FEI World Championships for Dressage and Para Dressage should be combined. The world championships for 2022 in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines will serve as qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Games.

“Equestrian sport has become increasingly globalised, but there are relatively few countries that have the capacity to host world championships in all disciplines simultaneously,” the FEI President said.

“The new bid process allows for the sustainable and cost-effective use of existing equestrian sports facilities and for the FEI to partner with National Federations that may have hesitated putting forward multi-discipline bids in the past. The door is now open for these Federations to consider submitting an expression of interest for an individual world championship in the discipline of their choice.”

In a key change to the bid process, the FEI will host an interactive workshop at the end of March in Lausanne for all National Federations/Organising Committees that submit an expression of interest in the 2022 World Championships.

“This interactive workshop is a key factor in ensuring that we adequately convey the structure, opportunities and minimum requirements of hosting the FEI World Championships 2022. By working more closely with the National Federations and Organising Committees from the very start of the process, we can ensure a unified vision and establish an achievable set of goals to work towards,” Ingmar De Vos said.

There are over 4,000 FEI events organised world-wide annually across the seven disciplines of Jumping, Dressage & Para-Dressage, Eventing, Endurance, Driving & Para-Driving, Vaulting, and Reining, with world championships in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines held every four years and every second year for non-Olympic disciplines.

Timeline

  • 28 February 2019 – Deadline for receipt of non-binding expressions of interest to host one or multiple FEI World Championship(s) 2022. All information can be accessed here.
  • 26 March 2019 – Workshop to be held in Lausanne after which interested bidders will be invited to submit a formal bid, outlining their plans and visions for hosting FEI World Championships in 2022.
  • November 2019 – Allocation of FEI World Championships at the in-person Board meeting at the FEI General Assembly in Moscow (RUS). All bids will be fully evaluated over the Spring/Summer of 2019.

Questions concerning the bid process can be sent to bidding@fei.org.

FEI contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+ 41 78 750 61 41

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Vanessa.Randin@fei.org
+ 41 78 750 61 73

Percherons Dominated Final Day of Inaugural Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 10, 2019 – The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show concluded Sunday, February 10 with an exciting finish to the weekend on a beautiful day in Wellington. The afternoon, which benefited the EQUUS Foundation, exhibited two classes, the Eight-Horse Hitch and the Unicorn Class. Held at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt, crowds drew to see the gentle giants up close and cheer them on.

For each class, spectators watched in amazement as the gentle giants entered the arena. The two judges, Bob Shanahan of Ohio and Alan Freitag of Virginia, lined up in the middle of the ring to watch the team tests. The class consisted of teams completing three laps around the ring at the trot before changing direction across the diagonal. Trotting across the diagonal gives the drivers a chance to showcase their team’s skills individually to the judging panel. All hitches were then asked to demonstrate the natural gait, the walk, and the trot in the opposite direction to show the horses’ ability to work in unison under control. After being asked to line up in the center of the ring, the judges took a final look at the hitches’ presentations, while also asking for a demonstration the reverse gait. The final team scores were based on their ability to work together, head carriage, consistency, and the overall presentation of the hitch and driver.

The first class of the featured was the Eight-Horse Hitch, which showed crowds mass amounts of power paired with the agility of the draft breeds. Drivers kept precise control of each team of horses as they showed off for the judges. Horses were beautifully turned out, their manes braided and tack shining as they trotted around the arena. The Eight-Horse Hitch welcomed the draft breeds of Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian to go head-to-head in competition. The judges awarded first place to Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma with their driver Josh Minshull. Second place went to Blue Ribbon Farm, based in Farmington, Missouri. In third was Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma.

During the break, spectators got a chance to get up close and personal with Teddy, a rescue miniature pony that the EQUUS Foundation helped to rehome. Now owned by Georgina Bloomberg, Teddy is a prime example of the exceptional work that the EQUUS Foundation does. Also joining the EQUUS Foundation representatives were Jessica Springsteen and Clementine Goutal, who are both advocates for the foundation. The girls were treated to a ride in the hitches during the Unicorn class, getting a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to compete in the sport.

The final class of the weekend was the Unicorn class. As special as its name, the Unicorn class sees two horses in the back and one up front. Entering the class were 12 teams, all of them using their best horses as this class can be more challenging. Due to its unique structure, it is important that the horse in the front stays in the middle track and doesn’t sway side to side. This horse has to be well trained and confident to pull the cart forward on its own. Shining above the rest in this class were the Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad Zubrod. In second place was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma and rounding out the top three was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri.

The Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show was lovingly founded by Victoria McCullough. Praised by crowds, friends, and competitors, the show celebrated its inaugural year with great turnout and tough competition. Benefiting two charities close to McCullough and her work in the equestrian town of Wellington, the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show is proud to support the EQUUS Foundation and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches.

For more information about the EQUUS Foundation, click here.

Media Contact: Lenore Phillips
561-753-3389 | lrb@phelpsmediagroup.com

Gentle Giants Bring the Thunder at Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 9, 2019 – Day two of the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate started off with a big bang with the Six-Horse Hitch Classic Saturday. The day’s events included entertainment from the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, as well as the Four-Horse Hitch and the Ladies’ Team Cart class. A large crowd gathered at the Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt, for the beautiful day in Wellington, Florida to cheer on their favorite teams from Friday.

For each class, spectators watched in amazement as the gentle giants entered the arena. The judges lined up in the middle of the ring to watch the team tests which consisted of teams completing three laps around the ring at the trot before changing direction across the diagonal. Trotting across the diagonal gives the drivers a chance to showcase their team’s skills to the judging panel. All hitches were then asked to demonstrate the natural gait, the walk, and the trot in the opposite direction to show the horses ability to work in unison under control. After being asked to line up in the center of the ring, the judges took a final look at the hitches’ presentations, while also asking for a demonstration the reverse gait. The final team scores were based on their ability to work together, head carriage, consistency, and the overall presentation of the hitch and driver.

The Six-Horse Hitch Classic class was comprised of 13 teams that included all the draft breeds-Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian. The teams were split into four heats to allow them room in the ring to really show off their skills to the judge. The top five teams were then called back to allow the judge to make his final decision. In the end, it was the Express Ranches team from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh, who took the top honors. Coming in second was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean. Third place in the very competitive class went to the Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad.

After the entertainment it was time for the Ladies’ Team Cart, where women of all ages drove their wagons with two horses pulling them forward. All of the ladies had beautifully turned out teams and wagons and were dressed to match the part. In first place was Sugar Ridge RV from Danville, Vermont, driven by Mary Fernhoff. In second place was Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Alli Woodbury. Finishing in third place was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Jeanine Regier.

The day was capped off with the Four-Horse Hitch class, with six hitches coming back without their swing team. This was another large and highly competitive class, with the crowd cheering excitedly as the horses thundered by them. The judge awarded first place to Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad. Second place went to Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean. Rounding out the top three was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh.

Media Contact: Lenore Phillips
561-753-3389 | lrb@phelpsmediagroup.com

Larger Than Life Performance on First Day of Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show

Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 8, 2019 – The first day of the Chesapeake International Draft Horse Show in the equestrian community of Wellington, Florida took place Friday, February 8. Founded by Victoria McCullough, the Chesapeake International Draft Horse show was held at Crab Orchard Equestrian Estate, generously donated by Frank and Monica McCourt. Beautiful wagons painted in team colors showcased the heritage of the sport and made up the whole package as these teams displayed their skills to the judges. Showcasing the three breeds of draft horse, Belgian, Clydesdale, and Percheron, classes on Friday featured a six-horse hitch for each breed as well as a ladies’ cart.

For each class, spectators watched in amazement as the gentle giants entered the arena. The judges lined up in the middle of the ring to watch the team tests which consisted of teams completing three laps around the ring at the trot before changing direction across the diagonal. Trotting across the diagonal gives the drivers a chance to showcase their team’s skills to the judging panel. All hitches were then asked to demonstrate the natural gait, the walk, and the trot in the opposite direction to show the horses’ ability to work in unison under control. After being asked to line up in the center of the ring, the judges took a final look at the hitches’ presentations, while also asking for a demonstration the reverse gait. The final team scores were based on their ability to work together, head carriage, consistency, and the overall presentation of the hitch and driver.

The first class of the day was the Belgian Six-Horse Hitch, which saw four teams compete for the first blue ribbon of the inaugural Chesapeake International Horse Show. Originating in Belgium, the Belgian breed has the highest annual registration numbers. Starting the competition on an exciting note, the Belgians made a lasting impression on the crowd as they trotted around the ring cheered on by their fans. The first blue ribbon of the day was awarded to the Sugar Ridge RV owned hitch from Danville, Vermont, driven by Kirk. Second place went to the EH Perkins Construction hitch driven by Dusty hailing from Stowe, Massachusetts. The third-place hitch was driven by Sarah and owned by the Brockwood Belgians based out of Dayton, Pennsylvania.

The Clydesdales were then on display as the famed feathered giants took to the arena. Originally from Scotland, the Clydesdale is the most recognizable of all the draft breeds. Five teams hitched up for the class, and their presence was felt as they worked around the arena. The traditional tack of the horses was on display as it shined in the Florida sun. Winning the Clydesdale class was the Highpoint Clydesdales hitch driven by Freeman from Hooper, Utah. Coming in second place was the hometown favorite, Chesapeake Clydesdales, driven by Jim with assistance from the show’s founder, McCullough. Third place was awarded to Hunting Creek Farm, based in Hamptonville, North Carolina, driven by Chip.

Rounding out the six-horse hitch classes were the Percherons. Four teams competed in the class, all made up of beautifully turned out black horses. Originating in France and considered the smaller of the draft breeds, these horses still managed to make the ground shake and kick up the sand under their hooves as they thundered by spectators. Taking top honors was the Zubrod Percherons hitch from Guthrie, Oklahoma, driven by Chad. Coming in second was Express Ranches from Yukon, Oklahoma, driven by Josh. Third place was awarded to Blue Ribbon Farm from Farmington, Missouri, driven by Dean.

After an entertainment break, the ladies’ cart competitors were set to compete. Switching from wagons to two-wheel single carts, the ladies brought in one horse of their choosing to drive. The class showed off each draft breed and included both mares and geldings. Boasting a field of 12 competitive entries, the ladies split up into two groups of six to allow space to properly show off their skills. The ladies performed in the same manner as the six-horse, completing laps of the arena before changing direction, demonstrating walk-trot transitions before lining up and showcasing a reverse and allowing the judge to look over their overall presentation. Taking top honors in the ladies’ cart was the Express Ranch driver, Jeanine, who was beautifully dressed to match her shining wagon and jet black four-year-old Percheron, Joe. Coming in second was Sugar Ridge RV driver Mary and her Belgian mare, with third place going to Blue Ribbon Farm driver Alli, who showed a Percheron in the ladies’ cart.

Media Contact: Lenore Phillips
561-753-3389 | lrb@phelpsmediagroup.com

Association équestre Centaure Thanks Donors and Partners

Photo: Jonathan McCrea & Aristoteles.

Bromont, Quebec – Jan. 3, 2019 – Association équestre Centaure would like to thank its donors and partners who made organizing its 2018 season events possible.

Under Roger Deslauriers’s management, Association équestre Centaure organizes close to a dozen events and competitions every year in the hunter, jumper, dressage, three-day eventing, and driving disciplines. Events are held at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park in the Eastern Townships region of Canada.

Organizers of the International Bromont CSI3*, Bromont International Driving, and the CDI Autumn Classic, notably, and the Association équestre Centaure acknowledge the support of the Quebec Government, the Town of Bromont, Assante, the National Bank of Canada, Back on Track, Volta Électrique, Soltek Agrégats, as well as everyone who contributed to the 2018 season events.

Many athletes participated in the events organized by Association équestre Centaure, and the organizing committee hopes than 2019 will be just as successful. General manager, Deslauriers, said, “We are happy with the participation in the different events over the past year, and would like to thank the athletes for their trust and support. We are already at work on our 2019 season and hope that many of them will join us.”

Association équestre Centaure will organize seven competitions in 2019, including four international jumping, dressage, and driving horse shows.

Contact: Hélène Sactouris, event co-ordinator, via email: co-oc@internationalbromont.org or by phone: 450-534-0787.

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