Tag Archives: Olympia

It’s Another Italian Job in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix

The pinnacle of the last day of Olympia, The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix, was won by Alberto Zorzi, defending his 2017 title to become a back-to-back winner of the prestigious class. Earlier in the day the Show Jumping competition saw Irishman Shane Breen take the title in The Christmas Masters. The final show jumping class of the Show, The Mistletoe Mini Stakes, was won by the speedy duo of Connie Mensley and Madonna.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Lucy Aspell, followed by a win for Alice Crowley in the final race of the week. The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, the Official Charity of the Shetland Pony Grand National, was presented with a cheque of £45,059, the total amount raised for the beneficiary this year.

The Kennel Club Small Dog Agility Final was won by Dave Munnings and his cross-breed, Boost Bite.

Alberto Zorzi Defends His Title

Alberto Zorzi became the fifth rider in history to win The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix back-to-back when he produced an incredible burst of speed to outdo his four rivals in the jump-off and bring a brilliant five days of jumping to an enthralling close.

Last year, Zorzi, a member of the Italian army, also won on a mare (Contanga); this time it was the black 10-year-old Ulane de Coquerie. “It’s unbelievable! I am so lucky,” said Zorzi. “I know my horse is very fast, so I trust her and go with her. She’s one of the best I have ridden. I love this Show!”

In completing the double, Zorzi joins an elite band of riders: David Broome (with Philco and Sportsman in 1977-78), Nick Skelton (St James, 1982-83), Malcolm Pyrah (Towerlands Anglezarke, 1985-86), Franke Sloothaak (Walzerkoenig, 1988-89), and Ben Maher (Tripple X and Diva ll, 2013-14).

Only four went through to the jump-off, and Portugal’s Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida riding GC Chopin’s Bushi made a feisty start with a clear in 28.69 seconds. However, he was overhauled by the stylish Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten on Idi Utopia, who came home in 28.64.

Scott Brash was the sole British representative, riding a masterful clear round on the youngster Hello Jefferson, but a tight turn proved too ambitious for the nine-year-old and he refused.

Both Zorzi and van der Vleuten felt the Grand Prix track was harder than that for the previous day’s FEI World Cup™. “Alberto’s horse had a shorter stride than mine and could move up more quickly to the fences,” explained van der Vleuten, who ended up as Leading Rider of the Show. “But finishing second, and as Leading Rider of the show, is a great way for me to finish the year.”

Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and Olympia newcomer Doron Kuipers from the Netherlands were second and third in the final rider rankings with William Funnell best Briton in fourth.

Shane Breen Is the Master

Until this year, Shane Breen had never done a full week at Olympia. Now, he’s won his first rankings class and been crowned the victor in The Christmas Masters, a winner-takes-all knockout contest for the leading seven riders in the show.

The British trio of William Whitaker, John Whitaker, and William Funnell exited by the second round, as did Ireland’s Darragh Kenny. Then Dutchman Doron Kuipers, making his first visit to Olympia, hit a fence in the third and it was all down to Breen, riding Clyde VA, and Maikel van der Vleuten from the Netherlands, who took it to a jump-off against the clock in the fifth round for the jackpot of €9,500.

“I knew Maikel would be quicker [on Dana Blue], which is a more experienced horse than mine, so I had to hope he would have a fence down – and he obliged!”

Breen, a keen hunting man, said of his winning mount, Clyde VA: “I think a lot of this horse. He’s a little bit lazy to ride, but he’s going to be a good addition to Team Ireland.”

Earlier in the day, there was a timely birthday present for the popular Italian rider, Luca Maria Moneta, when a late dash on the 17-year-old Neptune Brecourt clinched the Turkish Airlines Speed Stakes from Robert Whitaker on Major Delacour.

Moneta, who is 51 and a strong advocate of working in partnership with the horse – many spectators will remember the way he fed his horse a carrot in the Puissance in 2013 (he still carries them in his pocket) – said: “Both my best horses are 17 years old and they spend a lot of time being horses rather than show jumpers – they go in the field every day at home.

“This horse enjoys competing so much that he would hate it if you left him behind – he finds it fun and easy. Sometimes when you get to the last fence in a speed class the horse will be hanging on the bit, but Neptune was very focussed today and our partnership work was rewarded.”

Goodbye Ursula

Scott Brash may be known by some as the cool ice man of Show Jumping, but it was an emotional evening at Olympia as he retired his brilliant mare Ursula Xll.

Ursula, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, is 17 and has twice been the top ranked horse in FEI competition and a flagship for British breeding; she won the 2016 CP International at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Canada and was runner-up in the FEI Longines World Cup™ leg at Olympia in 2017.

“We have a great partnership,” said Brash. “She gives you some feeling in a big class and I know what she’s going to do. Eventually she wants to have a foal, but she’ll come home with me and I will keep riding for a bit because she’s very fit and needs to be worked.”

Brash’s career has already included an Olympic gold medal, being world number one and winning the million-dollar Rolex Grand Slam, but the 33-year-old Scot admits: “I live for those feelings. The Grand Slam was one of the best things in my life, as was winning an Olympic gold medal in my home country, but it only makes me hungrier. I will want to win the World Cup final and an individual gold medal – I’m very motivated.

“I’m my fiercest critic. I have been cross with myself when I’ve won, but I’ve also come out of the arena with two down and been quite happy with that. I’m most comfortable when I’m in the ring. It’s what I love doing.”

Return of the Natives

A striking Connemara stallion described “as an absolute treasure at home” was crowned Supreme Champion in the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship sponsored by LeMieux.

Sandra Burton and Joe Burke’s 10-year-old Banks Timber, third last year, was bred in Denmark by Peter Bank Mikkelson, bought as a yearling from sales in Galway, Ireland, by Mr Burke, who had flown over for the day at Olympia, and arrived as an unbroken six-year-old at Mrs Burton’s Connemara pony stud in Lancashire. Reserve Champion was Cadlanvalley Buzby, a Welsh Section B stallion by Russetwood Elation out of Stockham Domino, owned and bred by Hayley Grota and ridden by 13-year-old Liberty Grota in her first season with the pony.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / 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

William Whitaker Wows the Crowd with Emotional Win at Olympia

William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

There’s nothing quite like a big win in front of the home crowd to trigger the emotions, but Great Britain’s William Whitaker (29) wasn’t the only one with a tear in his eye after he reigned supreme in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). The packed stadium of spectators went wild with delight when their own man soared to victory over a world-class field in an 18-horse jump-off that was a nail-biter to the final footfall.

“It’s surreal! Since I’ve been coming here as a kid this has been a dream, and I can’t believe it’s actually happened!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

This was the biggest result of Whitaker’s career to date, as he pinned Belgium’s Karel Cox (36) into runner-up spot while American star, Laura Kraut (53), lined up in third.

With so many jumping clear over the first track presented by Portuguese course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral, it was never going to be easy to come out on top, but Whitaker had no doubt about his plan. “The World Cup at Olympia is like a Championship: you get one shot at it every year and it’s all got to come together on the day. I told myself, if you’re clear in the first round then don’t hold back!” – and he certainly didn’t when seventh to go with Utamaro d’Ecaussines.

He’s long had a superb relationship with the courageous 14-year-old stallion, and when the pair set the target at 37.02 seconds with the smoothest of fast rounds in which every fence seemed to come up in exactly the right spot, and every turn was pure perfection, then that really put it up to the rest of them.

However, two horses later it seemed Karel Cox and the nine-year-old Evert might just catch them when galloping down to the last. But the clock showed 37.21 to leave the Belgian contenders trailing by two-tenths of a second. Whitaker could hardly bear the tension.

“It was torture! Especially the last few – every one that goes by you get closer to the win, and it’s not just anyone; it’s the best riders in the world!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

Third-last to go was the magical German and world no. 4, Marcus Ehning, with his Geneva winner Pret a Tout. But when they turned too tight to the penultimate vertical, they paid the price with a pole down in the quickest time of 36.03 seconds.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester, winners of the previous leg at La Coruña in Spain two weeks ago, made a wider turn there to come home clear in 38.17, but Laura Kraut and Zeremonie looked a real threat when last into the ring. The pair who helped clinched team gold for the USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September stormed home with a determined run, but their time of 37.70 seconds would only prove good enough for third. It was destined to be William Whitaker’s day, and he could hardly believe it.

He was of course following in a proud family tradition. His uncles, John and Michael Whitaker, have enjoyed many major successes in the world-famous Grand Hall at Olympia during their spectacular careers. Following in their legendary footsteps means a great deal to their nephew.

“I have memories of watching John and Michael winning the World Cup here – one of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was thinking that someday I could do it too!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

And he was full of praise for Utamaro. “It helps when you’re on a horse like him; he has such a good brain and mentality. In the collecting ring I was struggling to get him into canter, but he just lights up when he goes in the ring; he grows a foot! I’m delighted for the horse and the owners, Jasmin and Ludwig Criel – he’s had fantastic results over the years, but we never won a Grand Prix and I can’t believe it’s this one!” Whitaker said.

He’s got some changes coming up in the new year when he will be relocating to Germany, so he’s not quite clear if he will be in a position to line out in further World Cup qualifiers. “We’ll sit together after Christmas and make a plan,” he said.

For many others chasing down those precious points towards the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, however, the next port of call is Mechelen in Belgium next weekend.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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

Frederic Wandres Victorious after Nail-Biting Finish

Day two of Olympia, The London International Horse Show promised to be a spectacle and it certainly lived up to expectations. The FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound was won by Germany’s Frederic Wandres on his chestnut gelding, Duke of Britain, in a nail-biting finish.

Ahead of the start of the Show’s evening performance, the top eight Service Show Jumpers competed in the Services Jumping Championship. After a closely fought two rounds it was LCpl Laura Charley from 16 Signals Regiment and Vice Versa who took the spoils, with the Royal Navy’s Petty Officer Sophie Fuller and Infinaty and LCpl Holly Hall of 254 Medical Regiment, The Royal Logistics Corps and WKD San Remo slotting into second and third places, respectively.

After the presentation of the awards for the Services Jumping Championship, the crowd was treated to a mesmerising display of natural horsemanship by Spaniard, Santì Serra, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished equestrian artists in Europe. Through an astonishing level of trust and confidence, the 30-year-old “Horse Whisperer” from Barcelona demonstrated his extraordinary talent of controlling three of his horses with his mind and body. The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Alfie Diaper and Damerham Briar Lilly.

Duke Demonstrates His Class

The result could not have been closer with two riders finishing on an equal score in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound. The win, however, was awarded to Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain (80.030%), the first German combination to win the World Cup leg in London. The pair headed the class by virtue of higher artistic marks, meaning British favourite Charlotte Dujardin and Hawtins Delicato had to settle for second place.

Dujardin and ‘Del’ were the first to set the competition alight with their expressive kur set to the familiar compilation from ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ a freestyle which was first performed by Dujardin on Valegro in 2011. Frederic and Duke, third in last night’s Grand Prix, were, however, always going to be a threat and the pair did not disappoint, performing a fluent and mistake free test with a high degree of difficulty. The attractive chestnut, like Delicato, is also British bred and did not miss a beat, willingly performing canter pirouettes to tempi changes and passage to extended trot and back.

“For me to reach the magical 80% is a dream come true, especially in the company of these riders,” said Wandres, who attributes much of his success to the solid temperament of Duke, who is by the well-known stallion Dimaggio and was bred near Windsor by Tony and Sarah Pidgley .

“I trust Duke totally – I could ride him in any arena anywhere and as long as I don’t make a mistake; he won’t make a mistake,” said Wandres, who is now fourth in the FEI World Cup™ ranking.

Dujardin was equally delighted with her ride on ‘Del’.

“Yesterday he was a bit sticky in the arena so today I was better prepared,” said Dujardin, who was taking Del though only his second ever freestyle.

“He is still relatively inexperienced, and nothing can prepare you or your horse for the atmosphere of this arena – which is just the best and there is no show like it,” said Dujardin. “All I really wanted to do was come away with a positive experience, so I couldn’t be any more pleased.”

Dutch Olympian Hans Peter Minderhoud was not quite as happy, having to settle for third place with the young breeding stallion Glocks Dream Boy (77.990%) who sadly, like many others, made some technical mistakes, which ultimately proved too expensive in the loss of marks.

British rider Hayley Watson-Greaves and her longstanding partner Rubins Nite delighted the home crowd with a fluent and assured freestyle that put them in fourth place.

The FEI Dressage World Cup™ series of qualifiers continues through to next April when the final takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden (3-7 April).

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

Dream Win for Hans Peter Minderhoud

Olympia, The London International Horse Show opened its door for the first day of the week-long event. The UK’s largest indoor Show saw many of the world’s best Dressage riders out in full force for the newly formatted FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound, which saw Hans Peter Minderhoud clinch the victory with a score of 73.895%. Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin finished close behind on a score of 73.026% to take second.

The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National got off to a flying start as Olive Nicholls, daughter of renowned racing trainer Paul Nicholls, stormed her way to victory, taking the first win of the week. The Grand Hall also applauded a welcomed-return of La Garde Républicaine for the premier evening of the Show, as they displayed their impressive routine to the evening’s spectators.

Hans Peter Minderhoud Takes First Victory of Newly Formatted FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix

Dutchman Hans Peter Minderhoud and the young stallion Glock’s Dream Boy NOP stole the first win of the show, The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. It was also the first win at Olympia for Minderhoud who has been second and third on previous occasions.

The combination headed off British golden girl Charlotte Dujardin, who for the show was paired with Hawtins Delicato, the team horse of her mentor Carl Hester. Dujardin and ‘Del’ had the debatable honour of being the first in the class, meaning they were the first ever combination to ride the newly designed and shortened grand prix being piloted at the show, as part of the FEI Dressage World Cup package. The revamp also included an immediate after test dismount and spotlight interview in the arena before the five judges’ scores were revealed.

“It was all very new and different to what we have been used to, but for me it was a really cool moment when the scores came up and I was very happy,” said Minderhoud.

Dujardin was also pleased with her ride and place, especially as she was the test guinea pig.

“I didn’t have the chance to watch anyone ride through the test and Del has never been to an indoor show like this, so I was pleased with him,” said Dujardin.

“Getting off the horse in the arena and having an interview straight away took me back a bit but it was great to have the support of the crowd.”

German debutant Frederic Wandres and the chestnut gelding Duke of Britain claimed an impressive third place on their first visit to the show. The pair produced a fluent test which could have scored higher but for mistakes in the two tempi changes.

“When I saw the arena for the first time, I thought it was just breath-taking,” said Wandres who enjoyed the new test. “I have never been to a show like this before and it is the nicest show I have ever been to.”

“I was nervous about riding the new test, but for me it rode well and my horse coped with the movements and felt really good.”

British judge Stephen Clarke commented: “Yes, the test was quite difficult as the movements come up quickly and are short – it is undoubtedly easier to judge than ride. But the evening as a whole was great; there was a good crowd and you could really feel the interest and enthusiasm – it was a good evening for the sport.”

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

The Animals Arrive Two-by-Two for Olympia

Olympia, The London International Horse Show, taking place from 17-23 December 2018, brings almost 400 horses to central London for elite international competitions, equestrian displays, and performances. As the UK’s largest indoor Show, and the only Show to host all three FEI World Cup™ Qualifiers in Dressage, Show Jumping, and Driving, over 90,000 spectators are due to attend the annual event, in addition to the world’s best riders.

Having travelled to the capital city from as far as France, an array of equine and canine animals (listed below) arrived in ‘two-by-two’ formation to the Olympia London venue, early Sunday morning, entering through the Grand Hall entrance.

WHO

Two animals from each of the following displays took part:

• Teddy the Miniature Shetland: Instagram sensation Teddy has over 100,000 followers was  joined by Olympia’s mascot, a miniature Shetland foal named Bonnie
• La Garde Républicaine: The world-famous French cavalry regiment, one of the most talked about branches of the French Gendarmerie, bringing their spectacular ensemble of twelve horses to music.
• The Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National jockeys and ponies: The best upcoming jockeys and their ponies, including Lucas Murphy, son of National Hunt jockey, Timmy Murphy, and Daisy Harrap.
• Festive donkeys – Dora and Nora: Representing the Official Charity of Olympia 2018, The Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys.
• Kennel Club Dog Agility dogs: The UK’s most talented dogs attend the Show to compete in The Kennel Club Dog Agility, the pinnacle of the Dog Agility calendar.

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

Scott Brash to Retire Once-in-a-Lifetime Mare, Ursula XII, at Olympia

Olympia, The London International Horse Show is honoured to announce that one of Great Britain’s most successful ever Show Jumpers, Scott Brash MBE, has decided to officially retire his leading mare Ursula XII at the annual equestrian event, which is taking place from 17-23 December 2018.

Since forming their partnership in 2012, Brash and Ursula XII have become one of Show Jumping’s most iconic pairings, having had their fair share of prime podium positions throughout their journey together. The 17-year-old Scottish Sport Horse, owned by Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham, has delivered strong performances throughout the entirety of her career. In 2016, Ursula secured an historic win for Brash in the CP International at the CSIO Spruce Meadows Masters, not only making her the highest earning horse that year, but also the world’s best. The pair has gone from strength to strength, taking the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Mexico title this year.

The partnership has regularly competed at Olympia, very narrowly missing out on winning The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ at the Show in 2017, after Julien Epaillard’s jump-off denied them first place. A special retirement ceremony will take place on Sunday 23 December, after the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix, commending this special horse before she enjoys a happy retirement.

Scott Brash MBE said: “Ursula is once-in-a-lifetime horse who has given me moments in my career that I will never be able to top. I don’t think I will ever ride a horse like her again; she’s one of the smallest horses in the stables but jumps round such big courses more easily than any horse I’ve ridden. It is an honour to be giving her the retirement ceremony she deserves and celebrating her incredible career. We’re thrilled to be paying tribute to her at Olympia; the atmosphere is like no other and the Show is on home-turf, making it even more special.”

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “We’re delighted to be holding the official retirement for Ursula. She’s an incredible horse and it is a privilege to be paying respects to her career, in addition to giving ticket holders the opportunity to witness this special occasion.”

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

Live TV Coverage of Olympia Set to Feature Heavily over Christmas Period

Taking place from Monday 17 to Sunday 23 December 2018, Olympia, The International London Horse Show will be available to homes across the UK, with extensive coverage from the BBC starting with the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Freestyle to Music at 19:20 on the evening of Tuesday 18 December.

The BBC coverage, which will total almost 14 hours over the course of the week, cements Olympia’s position as the most important indoor equestrian event in the UK and will showcase the world-class competitive equestrian sport that is on offer.

BBC televised highlights include FEI World Cup™ Jumping, in which, last year, seven of the top 10 world-ranked show jumpers featured, including British Olympic gold medallists Ben Maher and Scott Brash. The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound will also be televised this year and is set to welcome Charlotte Dujardin OBE, who will unveil a new freestyle routine. The three-time Olympic gold medallist, who has not competed in London since setting a new world record in 2015, will bring her rising star Mount St John Freestyle, with whom she won team and individual bronze at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon earlier this year.

Show director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Working with the BBC is always a pleasure and the coverage of Olympia provides a massive platform for equestrian sport. Its coverage is not only important for Olympia but also for equestrianism in general, given that it is broadcasting world-class competition to an incredibly diverse audience. Its importance really can’t be overstated.”

Coverage will also include international classes, such as the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix and the Cayenne Puissance, which last year was won by Britain’s leading lady rider, Laura Renwick, in what proved to be a closely contested affair.

Friday night, also known as ‘Race Night’, will be televised in its entirety and will undoubtedly be a highlight, featuring fan-favourites such as: the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National, an exhilarating and competitive event between young and up-and-coming jockeys, along with the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, in which racing legend Sir AP McCoy will be keen to defend his title.

Further coverage includes international displays from La Garde Républicaine and its famous cavalry regiment along with the Azerbaijan ‘Land of Fire,’ a highly-skilled fusion of gymnastics and equestrianism that is bound to get viewers out of their armchairs. For those interested in other four-legged competition, the Kennel Club Dog Agility competition brings the UK’s best canine partnerships to screens as they battle it out for the biggest title of their careers.

International live coverage of the Dressage, Jumping, and Driving FEI World Cup™ competitions will be available on FEI TV and additional post-event coverage will be broadcast on Horse & Country TV and will be accessible from January.

Olympia, The London International Horse Show may be viewed online and on TV. The day-by-day coverage listing is as follows*:

Tuesday 18 December
• FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound
19:20-22:15 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV, and FEI TV

Wednesday 19 December
• The Cayenne Puissance
21:15-22:15 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV

Friday 21 December
• FEI Driving World Cup™ presented By Dobson & Horrell
12:45-13:40 – FEI Facebook Live & FEI YouTube
• The Entire Evening Performance
18:45-22:30 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV
Featuring The Markel Champions Challenge, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and The Longines Christmas Cracker

Saturday 22 December
• FEI World Cup™ Show Jumping
13:15-16:30 – LIVE on BBC Two HD, BBC Online & connected TV
14.30-16.30 – LIVE on FEI TV
18.40-19.25 – LIVE on FEI TV

Sunday 23 December
• The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix
18:00-20:00 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV, FEI Facebook & FEI YouTube

Monday 24 December
• Recorded Highlights
10:00-11:00 – BBC Two HD, BBC Online & connected TV

Horse & Country TV will feature Olympia highlights including the FEI World Cup™ Dressage, Driving, and Show Jumping competitions, along with the Cayenne Puissance, the Longines Christmas Cracker, and the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix.

Horse & Country TV is available on Sky Channel 253, H&C Play, and Amazon Video.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins gjenkins@revolutionworld.com +44(0)7717 776928