Tag Archives: Olympia

This Esme and Teddy the Shetland to Take Centre Stage at Olympia Live Zone

Olympia, The London International Horse Show is thrilled to announce the 2019 line-up for the hugely popular ‘Live Zone.’ Providing a unique opportunity for spectators to meet and interact with some of their favourite equestrian stars, this year’s Live Zone features online influencers as well as talks, Q&A sessions, and rider interviews.

Alongside the exclusive opportunity to meet elite equestrian athletes, the Live Zone will include guest appearances from social media sensations, including Esme Higgs, one of the world’s most popular equestrian influencers. Attending from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 December, Higgs is famous for her YouTube videos of her life with her ponies and donkeys and attracts 3.5 million viewers to her YouTube channel ‘This Esme’ each month.

Teddy the Shetland will be at Olympia on Thursday 19 December and Friday 20 December for a ‘meet and greet’ and photo opportunities. The miniature Shetland who has over 120,000 followers has become a social media superstar and has even been featured in a Dior photoshoot.

Show jumper Kate Lewis, who documents her equestrian journey under the name ‘Blob the Cob’, will be making her Olympia Live Zone debut on Thursday, 19 December. Known for her incredible bareback jumping videos, the 20-year-old from North Yorkshire has over 136,000 Instagram followers and YouTube subscribers.

This year the Live Zone will also see appearances from young eventing rider ‘Pony Nuts,’ Vic Brant, who writes the hugely popular online blog ‘Diary of a Wimpy Eventer’ and vloggers Tina Wallace and Emily Dunstan who make videos as ‘Life on the Left Rein’ and ‘EMD Eventing’. By popular demand, pony producer Megan Elphick of Elphick Event Ponies will be making her Live Zone debut with a Q&A session, answering questions about training tactics and the best confidence-building exercises for ponies.

Olympia’s Official Charity, The Tim Stockdale Foundation, will also be supporting the Urban Equestrian Academy on the Live Zone for Part II of the Olympia Riding Academy – the initiative started earlier this year with an educational trip to the Stockdale’s yard.

The complete 2019 timetable will be announced later this month and will also include top international competitors from show jumping, dressage, and driving as well as specialist equestrian experts, and other stars of the Show.

Olympia Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Olympia recognises the importance of digital bloggers and YouTube stars and we want to build unforgettable experiences for both our visitors and for those people who have such an influence on the equestrian community. The Live Zone at Olympia has been an incredibly successful initiative that brings fans and riders together. This year, it returns better than ever with an extensive list of guests.”

YouTuber ‘This Esme’ is one of the world’s largest equestrian social media stars. “Olympia is definitely one of my favorite times of year. I have been every year since I was 10 years old and it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without it! This year I’m really excited to be back in the Live Zone meeting my viewers and soaking up the special Olympia atmosphere.”

Taking place at Olympia Grand this December, Olympia, The London International Horse Show attracts the world’s best riders and carriage drivers. The West Kensington venue will host seven days of top-class equestrian competition between 16-22 December, thrilling visitors from around the country. Alongside three FEI World Cup legs in Dressage, Show Jumping, and Carriage Driving, 90,000 spectators will also enjoy international performances from The Household Calvary Musical Ride and Jean-Francois Pignon’s new ‘Black and White’ display.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

Sir Anthony McCoy and Bridget Andrews to Captain the Teams at Olympia’s Star Studded ‘Race Night’

Sir Anthony ‘AP’ McCoy OBE and Bridget Andrews have been confirmed as the team captains for the 2019 edition of the Markel Jockeys Jumping, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. Returning for another electrifying year, the legendary ‘Race Night’ will thrill the audience of Olympia Grand with two star-studded teams, including the world’s top jockeys. Taking place on Friday 20 December 2019, spectators of the Show can expect nail-biting action as the teams battle it out for the Champions’ Crown.

Now in its fifth year, the Markel Jockeys Jumping, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, will see some of Britain’s world-class jockeys switch disciplines to compete in a relay show jumping competition, swapping the racetrack for the Olympia arena in front of a 7000 strong crowd. This year’s format will see an all girls’ team, captained by Bridget Andrews and including top names Bryony Frost and Hayley Turner, go head-to-head with an all boys’ team captained by 20-time champion jockey, Sir Anthony McCoy.

Bridget Andrews, who recorded her first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2018, is one of the best female jump jockeys in the UK. Joining her will be Bryony Frost, who earlier this year became the first woman to win a Grade One race over fences at the Cheltenham Festival. Hayley Turner OBE will also join the all girls’ team. Hayley is a multiple Group One-winning jockey with over 800 career wins, making her the most successful female flat jockey of all time in Britain. This year she became the first woman for 32 years to win a race at Royal Ascot.

Joining Sir Anthony McCoy will be former flat champion jockeys, Ryan Moore and Jim Crowley. Harry Skelton will also be returning in hope of defending his title in rather less dramatic circumstances, following a bridle malfunction in the 2018 event. The final line-up of remaining members will be announced at a later date.

Captain of the boys’ team, AP McCoy, said: “The atmosphere at ‘Race Night’ is electric and I love being a part of the Markel Jockeys Jumping. I’m looking forward to once again showing the girls how it’s done! In addition to all the fun, it shines a light on all the great work the Injured Jockeys Fund do in both the racing world and across the wider equestrian community.”

Juliet Redfern, Head of Equine Insurance at Markel, said: “Markel is delighted to be continuing its support of this fabulous event, which just seems to get more popular every year. The Injured Jockeys Fund is a wonderful charity, that looks after its own so well, and we couldn’t be happier to be returning to Olympia for a fifth year!”

Taking place in the iconic Olympia Grand this Christmas (16-22 December), Olympia, The London International Horse Show is a highly anticipated equestrian event which attracts the best riders and drivers from around the world. The week of equestrian action will see many of the world’s best athletes travel to the iconic Olympia venue, as the Show hosts three FEI World Cup™ competitions in Dressage, Carriage Driving, and Show Jumping.

Spectators can also look forward to entertainment from The Shetland Pony Grand National, Kennel Club Dog Agility, and the festive extraordinaire: the Christmas Finale. The 2019 edition of the event will open its doors to two international displays including the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, performing its Musical Ride at this year’s Show. Made up of 28 horses and 36 mounted ceremonial service members – who also serve as fighting soldiers – the Musical Ride is unique across the globe, as it demonstrates exceptional horsemanship and the very best of British military tradition. Horse Whisperer, Jean-François Pignon, will be debuting his ‘Black and White’ display for the first time in front of a UK audience. Adding to an already impressive line-up of displays, Pignon’s performance, which comprises six white and two black mares, is bound to be a crowd pleaser as he wows the crowds with his unique skills.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

Olympia and Tim Stockdale Foundation Debut Olympia Riding Academy to Increase Accessibility

Olympia, The London International Horse Show, together with its 2019 Official Charity, The Tim Stockdale Foundation, debuted the ‘Olympia Riding Academy’ on 10 September, aiming to introduce economically disadvantaged children to the range of career prospects within the equestrian industry. Working closely with The Urban Equestrian Academy, the initiative provides an opportunity for children to meet professionals who work in the sector and receive advice and inspiration on their future careers.

Eight children from The Urban Equestrian Academy aged from 8-19 attended the day, the highlight being a riding lesson from rising show jumping star Joseph Stockdale, son of Olympic rider Tim Stockdale who passed away last year. Students were given the opportunity to spend time with a nutritionist from feed company Spillers and farrier Nigel Turner, as well as the staff who run the Stockdale’s yard of 23 international horses. During the day, attendees were able to ask questions about career paths and gain a further understanding of what each job entails. Also present were employees of HPower Group, the event management company that manages Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and rEvolution, an international sports PR and Marketing agency.

Olympia, The London International Horse Show, together with 2019 Official Charity, The Tim Stockdale Foundation, hopes the ‘Olympia Riding Academy’ will create a platform which will provide opportunities to all children and young people interested in equestrianism. In December, the ‘Olympia Riding Academy’ attendees’ pupils will attend the Show, where representatives will have the opportunity to help with the Show’s Live Zone and learn more about how the event is run.

Olympia Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Our goal is to widen equestrian accessibility and participation, bringing it to individuals and communities who have least access to it. By creating a platform where these children can learn about careers within the industry, we hope to create opportunities and open doors that haven’t been available in the past.

“Working alongside The Tim Stockdale Foundation and The Urban Equestrian Academy – who both share the same vision of making equestrian accessible to everyone – has been incredibly inspiring.”

The Tim Stockdale Foundation, which was founded by his family after his death from cancer last year, works to continue the legacy of the show jumping star’s life and career. Olympia was a highlight of the calendar for Tim and the Show is proud to have the Foundation as their official charity for 2019.

Tim’s wife, Laura, said: “We are honored to work with Olympia and The Urban Equestrian Academy to host such a special day for aspiring young riders struggling with accessibility. Tim felt very strongly about making equestrianism, alongside other sports, available to everyone. The work of the Foundation will continue to provide opportunities to those in real need of them.”

The Urban Equestrian Academy’s mandate focuses on widening participation of those with the least experience in the equestrian world and the individuals and communities with the least access to it. Their programs and services are helping to change social and racial diversity in equestrian sports by creating a representative, accessible, and inclusive equestrian environment for all, regardless of race, colour, or background.

According to Azeezah Zampaladus, a UEA student, “I had such a great day at the Olympia Riding Academy. It was really inspiring watching Joe ride, and I really enjoyed meeting the farrier and nutritionists – they were so interesting. I can’t wait to go to Olympia this Christmas!”

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

UK Debut for Jean-François Pignon’s New ‘Black and White’ Display at This Year’s Olympia

Organisers of Olympia, The London International Horse Show are delighted to announce Jean-François Pignon will perform his new ‘Black and White’ display for the first time in the UK at this year’s event. Adding to an already impressive line-up of displays, Pignon’s performance, which comprises eight white and six black mares, is bound to be a crowd pleaser, as he wows the crowds with his unique skills.

The renowned Frenchman, who has been performing internationally for over 30 years, has been training horses since he was 11 years old with his goal being to communicate with his horses on another level, by working with them in a natural way. He now educates people all over the world by demonstrating his methods.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “We feel incredibly privileged that Jean-François Pignon has chosen Olympia, The London International to perform his ‘Black and White’ display in the UK for the first time. He is an extraordinarily talented horseman, and I know fans will be travelling from around the country to see this display.

“The bond between Pignon and his horses is exceptional, and his performances always delight our audiences. It’s incredible to see the trust these horses have in Jean-François and how relaxed they are in front of such a large crowd.”

Jean-François Pignon said: “The idea for the display originally came from my vet, who asked me to work with these young mares who had never been handled by humans before. One year down the line and the idea is in full development and it is such a pleasure to be able to share this magic with an audience.

“The atmosphere at Olympia is incredibly special and the London audience is always so engaging. I am looking forward to giving a magical performance to all those traveling to London to see ‘Black and White’ for the first time.”

Also gracing the Olympia Grand will be the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, performing its Musical Ride at this year’s Show. Made up of 28 horses and 36 mounted ceremonial service members – who also serve as fighting soldiers – the Musical Ride is unique across the globe, as it demonstrates exceptional horsemanship and the very best of British military tradition. Having not appeared at the West Kensington venue for many years, the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is set to be one of the most exciting displays of the week.

Living up to its reputation as one of Europe’s leading indoor equestrian events, Olympia, The London International Horse Show will once again host the world’s top competitors in three FEI World Cup™ disciplines: Carriage Driving, Dressage, and Show Jumping. The expected 90,000 visitors will experience top quality competition and displays this Christmas, such as the much-loved Christmas Finale, The Shetland Pony Grand National, and the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

Olympia, The London International Horse Show Introduces New Sustainability Initiatives for 2019

In its ongoing commitment to the environment, Olympia, The London International Horse Show, has once again put sustainability as a top priority for 2019. Taking place between 16-22 December, the week-long Show has reduced its use of single-use plastic again ahead of this year’s Christmas extravaganza.

Located in the heart of West London, the prestigious Olympia London has always been at the forefront of sustainability and waste management, pioneering several initiatives within the UK event industry. The London International Horse Show has worked, and continues to work, closely with Olympia London to create a more sustainable and environmentally aware event.

In their collaborative endeavour to fight the war on plastic, Olympia London and the Show have put several initiatives in place. In 2018, the Show eliminated 83% of its single-use plastic and packaging. Olympia London and the venue’s in-house caterers, Creative Events and Levy Restaurants have been working towards eliminating single-use plastic. Since 2018, plastic straws and cutlery have been replaced with recyclable alternatives such as paper straws and wooden and bamboo cutlery. Cardboard plates and vegware drinking glasses are now used and PET bottles of soft drinks have been replaced with aluminium cans.

All catering outlets offer discounted hot drinks to those who bring their own coffee cups, and Olympia London has gone into partnership with Simply Cups – the service was launched at Olympia, The London International Horse Show in 2018. Simply Cups provide separate bins for hot drinks cups, which are fully recycled into products, such as reusable cups. Guests will be able to find Simply Cups bins in the main catering areas of the Show.

In a drive to reduce energy consumption, all of the venue’s electricity is procured from renewable sources and all of the venue lighting in the arena and Shopping Village has been replaced with LED fittings – additionally, some of the rig’s incandescent bulbs will be replaced for the 2019 Show with environmentally-friendly LED alternatives.

Every year, more than 75 tonnes of muck, hay, and straw – the equivalent weight of 200 horses – is delivered to a local farm where it is composted and used as fertiliser for crops, and this is an initiative the Show will continue in 2019.

Water stations will be available near the catering outlets on the North and South sides of the Main Arena, as well as by the Pillar Hall at the North end, and the Winter Market and APEX room on the Shopping Village Gallery Level – new stations for this year will be located by the Shop and Drop on the South Side of the Main Arena and Eighteen 86 restaurant on the North Side of the Arena.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Reducing the Show’s carbon footprint has been a significant goal for us in recent years and none more so than in 2019. As an International Show, we have a responsibility to set an example, which we are doing by continue to put new sustainability initiatives in place, and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve for many years to come.

“We encourage ticket-holders travelling from around the UK to Olympia to think about their carbon footprint by considering greener ways of travelling, specifically making the most of the excellent public transport links to the venue. We also ask guests to bring their own water bottles rather than buying plastics bottles at the Show.”

Siân Richards, Business Services & Sustainability Manager of Olympia London, said: “We are very proud of our waste management programme, which has ensured that 100% of the waste output has been diverted from landfill for well over a decade, with 98% recycled and the remaining 2% recovered as waste for energy.

“Most of the waste produced at Olympia London is sent to a local waste recycling plant, where it’s sorted and sent back into the manufacturing chain to be reused. The main exception to this is food waste, which is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, where it’s converted into bio-fuel and fertiliser.

“Olympia London works closely with local food banks and charities around London to ensure that any useable food left over from the event is used to help those less fortunate.”

Olympia, The London International Horse Show will return once again for seven days of spectacular high-class competition. Attracting crowds and riders from around the world, the 2019 edition of the Christmas Show is sure to impress. Taking place at the iconic Olympia Grand, the expected 90,000 spectators will witness FEI World Cup™ action, which will begin on Monday 16 December, and will showcase the very best of Show Jumping, Dressage, and Carriage Driving. Very much living up to its name, the International Show will also host a range of exciting performances and displays throughout the week, concluding with the greatly anticipated Olympia Grand Prix on Sunday 22 December.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry to Perform at Olympia, The London International Horse Show

Olympia, The London International Horse Show has announced that the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will perform its Musical Ride at the UK’s highly anticipated Christmas Show from 16-22 December 2019.

Made up of 28 horses and 36 personnel, the Household Cavalry has been confirmed to headline this year’s impressive line-up of displays and performances. As the only mounted ceremonial service men and women who also serve as fighting soldiers, The Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is unique across the globe as it demonstrates exceptional horsemanship and the very best of British tradition. The drills, which are practiced during battle, will be carried out to music and performed in a routine that is strongly focused on precise timing and impeccable coordination.

Having not performed at the West Kensington venue for four years, The Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry is set to be one of the most exciting displays of the week and will attract audiences from across the country. London’s passionate equestrian fans will get to experience the mesmerising display, which has been perfected and performed in front of audiences since 1882.

Musical Ride Officer, Captain Felix Pagden-Ratcliffe, said: “The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is honoured to be returning to Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and to be able to perform in front of such a passionate crowd. It is a great opportunity to celebrate the role that the Mounted Regiment holds in modern day. As always, we have high standards to live up to and this year we hope to exceed all expectations.”

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Olympia, The London International Horse Show is the ultimate celebration of equestrianism and we work extremely hard to bring a variety of displays to the event each year. The Household Cavalry will bring huge entertainment to the London audience. It is very exciting to have such an impressive display headline the week’s performances.”

Olympia, The London International Horse Show will return to the capital for another year of world-class equestrian competition. The 2019 edition of the Show will play host to the world’s best riders and drivers from Monday 16 December – Sunday 22 December. The week’s highlights will include three FEI World Cup™ competitions in Show Jumping, Dressage, and Carriage Driving. Audience members will also be treated to a range of international displays and performances in addition to returning favourites such as the Cayenne Puissance and The Olympia Grand Prix, the culminating competition which will take place on Sunday 22 December, signing off 2019 in style.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

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

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