Tag Archives: Olympia

Brits on Top on Final Day of Olympia

Olympia, The London International Horse Show concluded in spectacular fashion, with the world’s top Show Jumpers in action in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix, which was won by Britain’s Scott Brash. Meanwhile, Emanuele Gaudiano demonstrated why he is known as one of the fastest riders on the circuit with a win in The Turkish Airlines Speed Stakes. The evening wrapped up with the British flag flying once more as Holly Smith was crowned with the 2019 Leading Rider Award.

The day also included action from the country’s best young riders, with The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship going to Jodie Hall-McAteer and Scotland’s Millie Lawson taking the Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes for 128cm ponies.

The BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship Final sponsored by LeMieux was taken by Emma Burrow with Welsh Section D Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso.

The final Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National races of the season saw wins for Lily Phelan on Sedgehill Talisman and Lucy Aspell riding Merkisayre Sea Duble in her last year of being eligible for the competition. Meanwhile, The Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes Final went to Dave Munnings with Boost Bite for the third year in a row.

The final night crowd was in for a real treat as a thrilling competition unfolded in the showpiece Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. It was horsemanship at its best as Scott Brash, in the very last round of 2019, produced a magical display on Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham’s Hello Vincent to snatch the prize from his six rivals in the jump-off.

“Winning my last grand prix of the year, in front of a home crowd – it doesn’t get any better than that,” said a visibly thrilled Brash.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, on brand new ride Identity Vitseroel, had given it her all, her 11-year-old bay gelding trying his heart out with prodigious leaps and turns on a sixpence, but Brash’s smooth horsemanship was pure class and, with the crowd screaming him down to the final fence, the clock showed that he had shaved 0.82 off her time.

Holly Smith, who has enjoyed an outstanding show and took the Leading Rider accolade by an astonishing 28 points, finished third on Hearts Destiny and sealed a brilliant season.

“I’m absolutely delighted with all three of my horses, but Hearts Destiny has taken me to places I’ve only dreamed of – a bronze medal at the Europeans, winning the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin. And the calibre of riders here at Olympia – seven of the world’s top 10 – makes it all the more special.”

In fourth place was new face James Wilson, 25, on Imagine de Muze, a mare that has given him a dream year. “I’ve been watching Olympia since I was a kid, so this is particularly special,” he said. “This horse has made all my dreams come true: my first World Cup, my first Nations Cup, and now my first Grand Prix placing. She has catapulted me right up there and now I’ve got Tokyo in my sights.”

Seven riders made it through to the jump-off, four of them British, and, as tension built, Brash was coolly waiting in the wings on Hello Vincent, a horse produced by new Voltaire Design under-25 champion Jodie Hall-McAteer and which he’s only been riding for a few months.

“The others were very fast, and I knew I had to pull out all the stops,” said Brash. “I just tried to keep it tight. I got a good first forward distance and then managed the seven strides to the tray, which is what you had to do to win. The crowd was great and really gets behind you. I’m so proud of Vincent – he was amazing.”

Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano led from the front to take the Turkish Airlines Speed Stakes with Carlotta. As fourth to go in the 20-strong class, he set a tough target and held on for the victory.

“There was not so many options for me, so I just had to follow the course,” said Gaudiano. “My horse is a bit smaller than some of the others, who would be able to take out a stride, so I knew I had to go fast.”

Gaudiano has ridden Carlotta, a 10-year-old mare, since her first competition and she has been a prolific winner for him. “She has now won over 65 international classes, and is my [specialist] speed horse,” he said.

Britain’s Holly Smith finished second with Denver, a result which was part of her tactics to clinch the Leading Rider of The Show. “I was going to jump Denver in the Grand Prix, but decided to enter him in this,” she said.

Meanwhile, rising star Jodie Hall-McAteer punched the air and hugged her horse as she realised she had won the coveted Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship with two superb clear rounds on Shalt’n Peppa.

Under a new format, the young riders went through a qualifier on Friday, won by Georgia Tame on Quintella, with the top 10 competing in front of a packed house on the prestigious final night of the Show. The best five – all of whom went clear in the first round – then progressed to the jump-off.

Jodie, 19, was first to go in the jump-off and set the target of a clear round in a time of 30.75 seconds. The consistent Georgia came closest, riding a mature round for clear in 32.38 seconds.

“I’m so proud of my horse,” said Jodie, who competed on her first senior FEI Nations Cup team this year. “It’s right up there with the highlights of my career. Everyone wants to win this.”

Earlier in the day, Millie Lawson made the most of her long journey from Aberdeen to London with victory in the Equine Rescue Services Mini Stakes for 128cm ponies. Riding Priestwood Hardy, she was chasing a tough target set by Tabitha Kyle (Living the Dream) in the six-pony jump-off, but the 12-year-old utilised her mount’s natural enthusiasm and strength to pinch 0.05 seconds from the time.

“He was very hyper,” joked Millie. “I managed to get tight to the [penultimate] upright and just gallop at the last. It’s a dream come true to win here; it’s amazing!”

Emma Burrow had the perfect wedding and Christmas present combined when her Welsh Section D Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso was judged champion of the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship Final sponsored by LeMieux.

The 26 ponies qualified for the Final, representing all the native breeds – Shetland, Exmoor, Dartmoor, New Forests, Dales, Fell, Connemara, Highland, and Welsh (Section A, B, C, and D) – made a spectacular sight assembled in the Grand Hall of Olympia.

Emma (née Boardman), a native pony producer from Carlisle who only got married a fortnight ago, bought Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso as a six-month-old foal from his breeder, Gwyneth Griffiths, who had travelled from Wales to watch.

Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso has swept the board this year, winning at HOYS, the RIHS, Royal Welsh and Royal Lancashire, qualifying at Westmoreland County Show where judge Tom Best told Emma: “Now go and win the big one.”

Taking the reserve position was striking Highland stallion Melanie Stanford’s Benbreac of Croila, shown by Matthew Cooper in a fitting end to his showing career. The 16-year-old grey, who will retire after Olympia, obviously has a charming temperament, standing rock-still amid all the post-class hubbub back in the stables.

The final result was extremely close, with the combined scores from conformation judges Helen Horsfall and John Harvey and performance judges Nigel Hollings and Nicola Turner adding up to 177 for the winner and 176 to the reserve.

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Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Sheer Exell-ence at Olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Fuchs’ Sinner Is a Saint in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs brought his storming year to a close with a superbly ridden win in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™.

The reigning European Champion, fresh from a big win in Geneva last weekend, was second to go in a six-horse jump-off and pulled off a brilliantly accurate turn to the wall on The Sinner to achieve a time of 31.99 seconds that no one could match.

Austria’s Max Kühner (Elektric Blue P) and Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels (Delux van T & L) were also immaculate over the fences, but had to surrender to Fuchs’s speed, taking second and third places, respectively.

Marcus Ehning from Germany, a three-time winner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, was fourth with a fence down on the grey Cornado NRW.

Scott Brash, who won this class in 2016 on Hello M’Lady, was the best Briton in fifth on the promising 10-year-old Hello Jefferson, his mount in the winning FEI Nations Cup™ team in Dublin in August, and looks to have sealed his place at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas in April as well as having a potential horse for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

His Team GB teammate Holly Smith, who produced the only clear of the first 20 horses, enjoyed her best Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ result so far, sixth on her Nations Cup horse Hearts Destiny.

Irish course-designer Alan Wade set a fair but deceptively testing track, as befits a competition of this stature, and many of the distinguished names faulted unexpectedly.

“It was a great course. I wasn’t sure it would be stiff enough, but it had some light questions – and it got the right result!” said Fuchs. “I had a great round in the jump-off. I knew I would have to take all the risks to put the pressure on the others and it came off exactly as I wanted. I probably couldn’t repeat it if I tried.”

The FEI’s Director of Jumping for three decades, John Roche, described Olympia as “a shining example to other organisers,” and was echoed by second-time visitor Fuchs, who said: “It’s an amazing Show with a beautiful atmosphere and you really feel when you’re in the ring that you’re in a unique place.”

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

Fuchs on Fire as The Sinner Shines at Olympia

Martin Fuchs with The Sinner. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs scooped his second win of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at the London International Horse Show at Olympia, London (GBR), while Austria’s Max Kuhner lined up second ahead of Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels in third.

Partnering his top ride, the lightning-fast grey Clooney, Fuchs took the third leg in Lyon (FRA) by storm last month, and in today’s eighth round of the 14-leg series he galloped to victory with a stunning performance from The Sinner. He’s the reigning European champion, and looks set to take over the No. 1 spot on the Longines World Rankings as 2020 gets underway after an incredible run of recent form.

He also became the first Swiss winner of the Olympia leg of the FEI World Cup™ series in 29 years. The 27-year-old rider wasn’t even born when his uncle, Markus Fuchs, stood top of the podium at the London fixture back in 1990.

Just six horse-and-rider combinations made it through to the jump-off, and Fuchs was fulsome in his praise of Irish course designer, Alan Wade.

“The first round wasn’t crazy big, but Alan set a great course as he always does – it was another of his masterpieces!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

It was definitely no walk in the park, with the relatively small Olympia arena jam-packed with fences and an intense atmosphere in the packed Grand Hall adding to the pressure. Only six of the 37 starters qualified for the deciding round but it was a classic, Fuchs, who was second to go, putting it up to the rest with a great ride that saw him take a brave turn to the wall, now the fourth fence on the track, and a super-tight line to the penultimate oxer followed by a great gallop to the last. Throwing down a time of 31.99 seconds he then sat back and watched the remaining four give it their best.

Austria’s Max Kuhner followed with an extraordinary second clear from the hugely promising eight-year-old gelding Elektric Blue P, but their time of 33.83 seconds was no threat. However, as German ace, and three-time FEI World Cup™ champion, Marcus Ehning set off with Cornado NRW, he clearly meant business only to get too close to the penultimate oxer for four faults in 32.17 seconds.

Great Britain’s Scott Brash decided this was the day to put some jump-off pressure on his latest shining star, the 10-year-old Hello Jefferson, but when the second fence fell then there was only Niels Bruynseels and his 10-year-old Delux van T & L standing between Fuchs and victory. And for once things just didn’t go his way, none of the distances coming up nicely for the brilliant Belgian and his big horse with a long stride, so they stayed clear but had to settle for third place behind Kuhner in second and Fuchs at the head of affairs.

“I was early to go so I had to take all the risks to put the pressure on the others and everything worked perfectly today!” Fuchs said. He was of course delighted with The Sinner who belied his name. “It was Denis Lynch (IRL) who gave him his name and he was already a good horse for Denis,” he explained. He’s had the 11-year-old gelding since the beginning of the year, and they made their first major appearance together at CSIO Rome in May.

“At first I found him difficult to ride, but now we definitely have a better partnership; he has better rideabililty and we know each other a lot better now,” he pointed out. And The Sinner can look forward to some nice sunshine as he heads to Wellington, USA for the Winter Equestrian Festival with his rider in the new year.

Having moved into fourth place on the Western European League table after this brilliant result, Fuchs is now well qualified for the Longines 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April and his biggest headache will be to decide which horse to take – his wonder-horse Clooney or his latest star, The Sinner. His uncle, Markus Fuchs, was runner-up at the series Final in Las Vegas in 2000 and was crowned champion with the great Tinka’s Boy the following year in Gothenburg, Sweden. Martin was runner-up to compatriot Steve Guerdat at the 2019 Final which was also staged in Gothenburg, so could history be about to repeat itself over the coming months?

There are 18 qualifying spots on offer to riders in the Western European series and normally 40 points is enough to make the cut. As it stands, and with six more qualifiers yet to go, the top five riders on the League table have more than enough points: defending champion Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat has 55 but anyway gains automatic qualification, Belgium’s Pieter Devos also has 55, fifth placing for Great Britain’s Scott Brash leaves him with 47, Fuchs has 44, and Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano is in fifth in the current standings with 43.

For the rest, the next opportunity to collect those precious points will be at the ninth leg of the series in Mechelen, Belgium on Monday 30 December.

Watch highlights here.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Full Speed Ahead on Race Night at Olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

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Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Again on Day Four of Olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Double Delight as Whitaker and Pender Share Puissance Spoils

The third day of action at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, welcomed the world’s best show jumpers to Olympia Grand. Seven of the top ten riders attended, with Britain’s Holly Smith getting the Show off to a flying start by taking the opening class, The Welcome Stakes, by the narrowest of margins from compatriot Laura Renwick.

The Cayenne Puissance had the sell-out crowd on their feet, with William Whitaker and Michael Pender taking joint honours, both clearing a remarkable 2.18 metres (7ft 2in) in the fifth round. Earlier in the day Darragh Kenny scored an impressive victory in The Santa Stakes supported by Olympia, while reigning European Champion Martin Fuchs sped to victory in the Musto Inside Edge Stakes.

An elite line-up of top show jumpers also took centre stage alongside their junior counterparts in The Aztec Diamond Pony Club Mini-Major. The pairs relay was a fiercely fought contest, with Norway’s Karina Hovland, partnered with Essex Hunt North Pony Club’s Laila Ramaci, coming out eventual winners. Nine-year-old Laila was very modest about her round with Dinky, but Karina was quick to offer praise to her young partner, saying, “Actually, you were really rather quick to the last!”

Two of the most stylish young riders on the circuit topped the results list in equal first place after a quality Cayenne Puissance competition which, for the second year running, went to a thrilling fifth and final round. The familiar face of Britain’s William Whitaker and Michael Pender, an Irishman making his Olympia debut, both cleared the famously imposing wall at 7ft 2in.

Last year’s joint winner, Guy Williams on the big grey Mr Blue Sky UK, also made it to the final round but knocked a brick out of the wall on his last attempt.

An elated Whitaker’s result was all the more credible as it was a first Puissance for Rushy Marsh Farm LLC’s 10-year-old RMF Charly. “I was a bit apprehensive, but the crowd lifts you and it feels as if you have another person on your back,” he said.

“I’m over the moon with the horse. He’s got a nice active canter and he just got better and better. He’s quite a character at home – a right Charlie, in fact.”

At 10 years younger than Whitaker, 20-year-old Pender clearly has a bright future. Having ridden since a child at his parents’ riding school in Co Kilkenny, he sprang into the limelight when he won the Hickstead Derby on Paul van den Bosch’s magnificent 12-year-old stallion Hearton du Bois Halleux.

“It’s a pleasure to ride a horse like that,” said Pender. “It makes your job a lot easier. Everything you ask him he’ll do. He was a bit tense at first, but then he improved with each round.”

The opening CSI5* class, The Welcome Stakes (1.40m), saw a British one-two with Holly Smith and Flipper Darco UK Z taking the victory by just 0.03 seconds from Laura Renwick aboard Bintang II. Germany’s Olympic Eventing Champion Michael Jung, competing at Olympia this week with his show jumping hat on, finished close behind in third place, riding the eight-year-old Dante RZ.

The feature class of the day, The Santa Stakes supported by Olympia (1.55m), provided top-class sport with the world’s best show jumping combinations competing for the €27,000 prize fund.  The first of the 10 riders through to the jump-off was Britain’s Holly Smith with her European Team Bronze Medal winning horse Heart’s Destiny who set the pace with a clear round in a time of 35.29 seconds.

William Whitaker followed with a smooth and speedy clear in a time of 34.45, putting the pressure on those to follow, but an exceptionally tight turn to the penultimate fence gave Darragh Kenny the advantage at the half-way stage. Those that followed valiantly tried to catch the Irishman but picked up faults on the way, with Kenny’s time proving impossible to catch, giving him the victory for the second successive year, this time aboard the 11-year-old Important de Muze.

Speaking after the class, Kenny said: “It’s such a great show here. I really like coming here every year; the crowd is always amazing and to start off with a win is really nice. I didn’t get to see William’s round, but I know my horse is quite careful and just went as fast as I could, which proved good enough today.”

The Musto Inside Edge Stakes, a 1.50m speed class, saw World No. 1 Steve Guerdat take an early lead riding Victorio des Frotards, jumping clear in a time of 55.42 seconds to set the pace. The notoriously fast Guy Williams pulled out all the stops aboard his 12-year-old gelding Cupido to take over the lead, crossing the line in 54.83 seconds, a time which proved good enough for second place.

Britain’s leading lady Holly Smith looked to place Williams’ lead in jeopardy, making an extremely tight turn back to the Houses of Parliament wall at fence four; however, her final time of 55.29 put her in eventual third position.

It was the reigning European Champion Martin Fuchs, fresh from Grand Prix victory in Geneva last weekend, who verified his World No. 2 credentials with an exceptionally smooth round, cutting all the corners to take the victory by over one second, posting a time of 53.47 with the talented 10-year-old grey mare Chica B Z.

A delighted Fuchs said: “It’s really nice to be here; it doesn’t feel like hard work and it’s a great Christmas feeling. Chica is quite experienced and is used to making tight turns so I didn’t have to do too much today.”

It was also a great night for young rider Emily Moffitt, who was presented with the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy, an award for the British under-25 rider who has shown the greatest potential for future success in that calendar year.

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Dujardin Delights with Freestyle Win as British Dominate at Olympia

Charlotte Dujardin with Mount St John Freestyle. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Charlotte Dujardin produced a superb victory with Mount St John Freestyle before an ecstatic home crowd at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier in the Grand Hall at Olympia, London (GBR). And to put the icing on the British Christmas cake, her compatriots Carl Hester and Charlotte Fry lined up in second and third.

It was an evening of great theatre, with Dujardin’s charming 10-year-old mare producing a stunning test for a mark of 87.520 to take the lead when fourth-last to go, only for a technical hitch to delay the scores of the three who followed. Still waiting for the final result, the riders were all sent back to the stables while Santa took over the arena for his Christmas Finale. But finally, the red carpet was rolled back out again, and it was Dujardin who led the British victory gallop.

She was delighted with the performance of her mare who has clearly matured a great deal since showing her massive potential at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA where she claimed two bronze medals. Freestyle’s freshness and freedom of movement, the elegance and height of her passage, and the expressiveness of her extended canter were just some of the highlights. And the horse really seemed to be enjoying herself, her big ears pricked as she gave her rider her full attention.

“It’s only her third time doing that test; she’s very inexperienced at Freestyle and I’m so pleased with her. The atmosphere was buzzing, it was a full house, and I could really feel it when I rode in. But she’s coping better and I couldn’t have asked any more from her!” said the winning rider who, though still only 34 years old, is a legend of the sport following her world-beating career with the now-retired Valegro.

Her friend and mentor, Hester, followed her into the ring and put a score of 84.470 on the board with a lovely performance with Hawtins Delicato. “A personal best – I can’t believe that at my age!” laughed the 52-year-old who has long been a huge influence in this sport. He was sitting back in the stable area when he learned his result – “One of my girls texted me and said you got an amazing score – it was a bit of a weird way to hear about it!” he added.

Fry was second-last to go, and the 23-year-old, who alongside Dujardin and Hester was a member of the British side that finished fourth at this summer’s FEI European Championships, produced a score of 82.620 with the 10-year-old stallion Everdale. This was good enough to pip the final partnership, and last year’s Olympia winners, Germany’s Frederic Wandres and Duke of Britain who finished a close fourth with 82.550 this time around.

Hester said that although he was happy with the way things turned out, he realises he needs to put more pressure on himself, because he continues to have big ambitions. “It was clear after the Grand Prix test yesterday that this horse needs to get out more. I know I need to get myself committed – this happens before every Olympics!” said the man who has competed at five of them, taking team gold with Uthopia at the London 2012 Games, and team silver with Nip Tuck at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dujardin confirmed that she has both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2020 in Las Vegas, USA in her sights now. So her plan? “Just to carry on doing what I’m doing and see how we go as we prepare for Tokyo. I’m hoping to get to Vegas in April, so I’ll go to the qualifier in Amsterdam in January and maybe another after that,” she explained.

She was twice winner of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title with Valegro, taking her second title in Las Vegas in 2015. This result sees her move up to eighth on the Western European League table from which the top nine will qualify for the 2020 Final, so she may need another good result to ensure she makes the cut.

There are still five legs of the Western European series left to go, the next taking place at Mechelen, Belgium on 29 December.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Brits Dominate at Olympia with a Second One-Two-Three

Britain continued to dominate on day two of Olympia, The London International Horse Show with another sensational win for Charlotte Dujardin in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound.

The day kicked off with the Services Jumping Championship, the ultimate accolade for military riders, which was won by LCpl Holly Hall representing The Royal Logistic Corps. LCpl Hall’s double clear aboard WKD San Remo proved the only faultless performance of the class. Squadron Leader Elise Kidd and Wing Commander Laurie Tostevin, both from the Royal Air Force, battled it out for second and third place, respectively, finishing on four faults with the second-round time being the deciding factor.

The Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Jean-François Pignon once again had the crowd on its feet with spectacular performances and the iconic 2019 edition of the Christmas Finale supported by The Hilton London Olympia premiered to great acclaim.

Britain’s ‘Queen of Dressage’ Charlotte Dujardin lived up to all expectations, riding Mount St John Freestyle to a euphoric victory in the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound, scoring an impressive 87.52%. Having won Monday’s FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound by a comfortable margin, Charlotte rose to the occasion, with a near-perfect rendition of her new freestyle routine, The Snow Queen.

With the top three places replicating the previous night’s result, British riders once again dominated. Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato showed what they are capable of to take second, with a personal best score of 84.47%. with Britain’s newest superstar, Lottie Fry and the spectacular stallion Everdale also smashing the 80% barrier, finishing on 82.62%, their second personal best of the show.

This was Charlotte’s fourth win in the FEI Dressage World Cup qualifier at Olympia, her first with the Fidermark mare. Speaking after her victory, Charlotte said: “This was her third ever Freestyle. The crowd felt even closer than last night and it was quite a difficult floorplan. She really tried and listened to me; I couldn’t ask for more. I’ve had my highs and lows this year [referring to disqualification in the Grand Prix at the European Championships] and it is great to end the year with such a positive ride.”

Carl Hester, who was disappointed with his previous day’s performance, said: “What a difference a day makes. I have a big smile today. His last Freestyle was at the European Championships this summer, where he had a meltdown. What a way to finish the season.”

Under-25 European Champion Lottie Fry, who rode to new music she had received just a week ago, was still pinching herself after previous day’s third place: “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet and it won’t sink in for quite a while,” said Lottie. “We trained hard in the lead up to Olympia and everything fell into place. I dare to dream that next year will be an exciting year.”

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics around the corner, judge Andrew Gardner was particularly pleased with Britain’s domination: “These horses are young, so there is more to come. This is my favourite show and judging horses of this calibre here is such a treat.”

Olympia was the sixth of 11 qualifiers in the 2019-20 FEI World Cup dressage series, which culminates with the final in Las Vegas in April.

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Britain Reigns Supreme on First Night of Olympia

The World’s best Dressage riders were out in force on day one of Olympia, The London International Horse Show, where Charlotte Dujardin was crowned winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound.

In addition to the top-class competition, some of the sport’s most respected names took centre stage to be part of Dressage Unwrapped, hosted by Carl Hester MBE, Gareth Hughes, and Richard Davison. With the help of some well-known equestrian friends, including Olympic, World, and European medalist Pippa Funnell and Performance Manager to Britain’s Senior Eventing Team, Richard Waygood, the unique masterclass explored all aspects of dressage, including producing, training, and managing dressage horses, how to cope with the pressures of competition, and insights from top dressage judge Stephen Clarke.

Spectacular performances from The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Jean-François Pignon, and a fast and furious opening race from The Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National, won by Freddy Tewson-Green, added to the excitement on the opening night of the 2019 Show.

Not only was Charlotte Dujardin back in pole position in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, but Britain completely dominated, taking the top four places.

Charlotte was in a league of her own, riding the spectacular 10-year-old Mount St John Freestyle, to win by a margin of more than 5% on 81.55%.

Charlotte said: “This was Freestyle’s second indoor show. Olympia is a really big atmosphere for a young horse that doesn’t have much experience. While I was going around the outside of the arena, I could hear everybody going, ‘Good luck, Charlotte’ — that’s how close the audience is. I am so excited about her; each time she performs, she just gets better. I was so pleased with how she dealt with it all.”

Carl Hester, the man dubbed The Master of Dressage, and the 11-year-old British-bred Hawtins Delicato took second place on 75.79%. The combination had just one error in the two-time changes, otherwise producing a fluent, soft test.

“He can do a lot better; he’s the most talented horse I’ve ever had, but it has taken time for him to gain confidence. Considering this was his first test since the Europeans, he’s done great,” said Carl.

Lottie Fry, who is based with the Van Olsts in the Netherlands, took third place with the hugely talented 10-year-old stallion Everdale, her second string. It was the 23-year-old’s second competition in her homeland in five years and only the combination’s fifth grand prix test.

Lottie said: “I am really proud. I cannot quite believe I am sitting next to Carl and Charlotte at this press conference. This is the biggest atmosphere we’ve ever competed in and he’s not used to going abroad. It is our best test and best score yet.”

Fourth place went to the European Championships Team GB second reserves Lara Butler and Rubin Al Asad with 74.05%.

The riders faced the additional challenge of riding the latest shortened grand prix test as part of a pilot project to make dressage user-friendlier. With each test lasting less than five minutes, the movements come up fast; however, it was generally well received by the riders, and regarded as a big improvement to last year’s test.

Katrina Wüst, the judge who was instrumental in writing the shortened version, said: “It is easily manageable for good riders; it is a true proof of thoroughness.”

An appreciative audience gathered earlier in the day at Olympia for a brand-new treat, a 90-minute “Dressage Unwrapped” demonstration, which kicked off the show. Led by three of Britain’s most celebrated dressage riders, Carl Hester, Gareth Hughes, and Richard Davison, it explored all aspects of dressage, including producing, training, and managing dressage horses, what it means to compete, and how to cope with the pressures of competition.

For the masterclass, Gareth Hughes rode his small tour horse Sintano Van Hof Olympia while explaining his training techniques and routine. Following this, Stephen Clarke, one of the world’s top judges, gave live comments and scores on a test performed by Jess Dunn and Alicante Valley, before a highly entertaining duo demonstration by performance manager to Britain’s senior eventing team, Richard Waygood, and one of the country’s best-loved eventers, Pippa Funnell, explained their favourite pole exercises to improve cadence and impulsion. Carl then completed the session by teaching Charlotte Dujardin on her phenomenally talented young superstar, the eight-year-old Gio, known as “Pumpkin.”

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