Ben Maher and Tic Tac.
The highly anticipated CSI5* Show Jumping made its debut on the third day of Royal Windsor Horse Show. It was a successful event for the British riders, with Ben Maher and Tic Tac victorious in the CSI5* Bahrain Pearl Stakes, along with Carl Hester and his chestnut Barolo securing their second victory of the week in the CDI4* FEI Grand Prix Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound.
The much awaited CSI5* Show Jumping at Royal Windsor Horse Show kicked off in impressive style, with an extremely tight speed competition, in which the top three riders finished within 0.2 seconds of each other.
Ahead of the class, Britain’s Michael Whitaker said, “It’s very exciting; it’s the first time we’ve had a 5* here; the venue’s unbelievable, the ring is fantastic, the ground is very, very good, so everything is great. I’ve been competing here since I was about 16 so I always look forward to coming back and I think it’s going to be a really top week of jumping.”
A high-class field, which included World No. 1 Kent Farrington, took to the Castle Arena for the 1.45m CSI5* Manama Speed Stakes, the first 5* competition of the newly upgraded Show. First in the arena for the two-phase competition was Canada’s Eric Lamaze, ranked fourth in the World, who rode a double clear round to lay down the gauntlet to his rivals. However, it was tenth to go, America’s Laura Kraut, who set the pace for everyone to catch aboard the 14-year-old chestnut mare, Whitney. Making all the turns and pushing on strongly between the fences, Laura posted an impressive time of 27.94 seconds, over two seconds faster than the previous fastest time.
Laura was followed into the arena by home favourite, Scott Brash, riding the 11-year-old Hello Forever, who put up a strong challenge, but came home 0.16 seconds behind the leader. Ireland’s Billy Twomey with Kimba Flamenco also looked to put Laura’s lead in jeopardy, but his time of 28.10 was only good enough for eventual equal second position with Scott.
Speaking after her victory, Laura said, “Windsor is probably one of our favourite horse shows; it’s so special, the surroundings with The Castle, the pageantry – it’s hard to describe what an outstanding extravaganza it is, to win a class here – it’s extra special for me! This is my first real competition with Whitney, so I’m very pleased; she’s a wonderful mare.”
The second class of the day, the CSI5* Bahrain Pearl Stakes, a 1.50m jump-off competition, was equally as exciting with some of the world’s best horses and riders vying for the top position. It was a challenging first round, with only seven of the 31 starters jumping clear through to the jump-off to contend for the £44,500 prize fund.
The first clear in the jump-off came from America’s Lauren Hough riding the bay mare Adare, who set a target of 40.55 seconds over the twisty course. David Will of Germany followed with an impressive display to post a time over two seconds faster than Lauren and take the lead. However, with two Olympic gold medalists to follow, the result was by no means certain and Canada’s Eric Lamaze, the current World No. 4, quickly took over pole position.
It was last to go, Britain’s Ben Maher, riding Jane Forbes Clark’s Tic Tac, who delighted the packed grandstand to take the victory, jumping immaculately and making the tightest of turns, to come home in a time of 37.23, just three tenths of a second faster than Lamaze.
Once again British dressage master Carl Hester put on a display of skill and horsemanship to win the CDI4* FEI International Grand Prix, supported by Horse & Hound, at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. It was a first ever freestyle for Carl and Barolo, a compact 11-year-old Hanoverian owned in partnership with Anne Seifert-Cohn and Charlotte Dujardin who has ridden him up through the levels.
The freestyle, to Charlotte and Valegro’s first music from How to Train Your Dragon, though not technically difficult, was ridden with precision and fluency displaying particularly flowing half passes and changes, proving a unanimous choice of the ground jury with a score of 79.85%.
“He’s a chilled horse and a quiet, soft lovely moving horse and didn’t make any mistakes,” said Carl. “He is so loose and elastic at times you feel like you are riding on a trampoline but he can really show his paces.”
Carl was the last winner here in 2015 as last year had to be abandoned due to flooding in the lorry park. “It’s great to be back again this year this is a truly amazing place to ride; there is nowhere else like it.”
Hayley Watson-Greaves also loves competing at Windsor especially when gaining second place with Rubin’s Nite (76.72%), a horse she found literally down the road from where she lived, as a two-year-old. The pair impressed with piaffe pirouettes and bold extended trots.
“I loved it; the atmosphere is just amazing out there and to come second to Carl is a great feeling; it doesn’t get better than that,” said Hayley whose programme is ridden to a specially composed piece of music.
Gareth Hughes and Don Carissimo (76.675%) gained another yellow rosette to add to the one they won in last night’s Grand Prix. It was a first ever freestyle for the combination and a first ever competitive visit to Windsor for Gareth.
“The wait to go in is definitely nerve-wracking but it is brilliant once you are in there,” said Gareth whose programme was set to theme music from the film Australia. “Don was a bit nervous at the start but he is such a genuine horse and that was a really good confidence boosting ride for us and hopefully we’ll be back next year.”
Reigning Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) hack champion Elusive, owned by Suzanna Welby and ridden by producer Jo Bates, claimed the prestigious Count Robert Orssich Hack Championship. In a dramatic finale, the class winner, Jayne Ross’s charge, Rosettes Direct’s Forgeland Hydepark, failed to sparkle in the Castle Arena and had to settle for reserve.
There was another surprise in the Martin Collins Cob section, where the reigning HOYS supreme champion, Lady Caroline Tyrrell’s cob campaigner Our Cashel Blue, ridden by Allister Hood, finished second in his class to the eventual champion, Paul Mortimer’s Randlestown Rolex, ridden by producer Robert Walker.
The Land Rover Mountain and Moorland Supreme In-Hand title went to the prolific Stuffynwood Primrose.
The top three placings in the Horse Pairs dressage phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix went to KWPN horses. The winner was first-time Royal Windsor competitor, Lars Schwitte from Germany, an experienced driver but one who counts driving his horses as his hobby. He has been driving a horse pair for more than 20 years and recently won a three-star competition with these horses in Leiden in Germany.
Second to him was Barry Capstick, driving for Ireland – the last person to win here in horse pairs when the competition was held in 2014. One of his KWPN geldings has been in harness for only 14 weeks but produced a smooth test that had two of the five judges putting him in first place. Experienced horse pairs driver and long-term competitor at Royal Windsor, Amelie von Buchholtz from Argentina, took third place out of the 24 competitors, also driving KWPN horses.
One of the favourite events at the Royal Windsor Horse Show – the Coaching Marathon – again thrilled spectators with its tradition, colour and spectacle. There were 14 turnouts in three sections – Road Coaches, Park Drags and Regimental Coaches – took part, completing a seven-mile drive around Windsor Home Park. It was judged by Mr Fred Hollander from the Netherlands – a member of both the Coaching Club of Great Britain and the Road Club – who found his Champion in the immediate past President of the Coaching Club, Bill Ginns, driving a park drag to his team of British-bred Hackneys. Reserve Champion was John Brown with his team of powerful bay horses put to the Tally Ho Road Coach, built by Shanks in 1890. The Tally Ho was one of the last coaches to run from London to Oxford, continuing into the 1930s.
There were three endurance classes at the Royal Windsor Endurance kindly supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) scooped the top four places in the CEI2* with winner Saeed Hamoud Saeed Al Khayari riding Dahi and finishing in a time of 04:47:48. Bahrain’s Ali Abdulla Mohamed Al Subaie took the top place in the CEI1* on Henham Romeo in 03:46:24 and Sarah Davenport won the national 40km class in a time of 02:18:56 on Blakeswater Wilfred.
Saeed Hamoud Saeed Al Khayari said: “I had a really good ride today and it was a great result for UAE in the CEI2*. It’s a real honour to ride on this lovely course in Windsor Great Park and to win at Royal Windsor is very special.”
This was the fifth edition of the Royal Windsor Endurance event, but the first to include both a CEI1* 80km and a national 40km ride, alongside the regular CEI2* 120km. An overall field of 101 horses (exactly double that of last year) from 12 nations rode through Windsor Great Park, taking in Ascot Racecourse and a number of famous landmarks.
Great Britain was extremely well represented at the event, with a total of 64 starters including 17 out of 21 riders in the 80km. Beth Langley finished second in that class on HS Ametista in 04:25:22 and said of her result:
“I’m really pleased with my result; she’s a great horse so I was hoping for a good ride. The course is lovely but deceptively difficult and technical to ride. There has been an amazing atmosphere here and it was really nice to have the graded riders (who were really good) and see them out on the course. Luckily my boyfriend and family have all been here helping today so they will all get to see my presentation from the Queen tomorrow – but I do feel like I need a showing groom to help get her ready!”
Ground Jury President, Ian Williams (GBR), said: “Today we’ve seen a true picture of endurance across all levels with the opportunity for international riders to compete at the highest level and for national riders to experience the thrill of these first class facilities. The wonderful cooperation of people across all levels of experience and ability and between nations is a great marker for the future of the sport.”
Endurance GB Chairman, John Hudson, said: “It was fabulous to have our national ride included in this now prestigious event and such a wonderful opportunity for our riders to ride in this setting. The feedback has been very positive and it’s a day that will live long in the memory.”
Royal Windsor Endurance Director, Nick Brooks-Ward, said: “We had a really good ride here today. The rain overnight meant the going was perfect and welcoming the novice riders enhanced the already very special atmosphere. As ever we are hugely grateful to the Crown Estate for allowing us to ride through Windsor Great Park, to the Kingdom of Bahrain for their support and to the volunteers, officials and everyone who makes this event the success it is.”
Of the starting field of 103, 54 horses completed the rides (53%), with the remainder either retiring or failing to meet the stringent vetting criteria required to qualify for their next phase of the competition.
Tickets can be purchased at www.rwhs.co.uk or by telephoning the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally. Local residents can purchase tickets by contacting Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743589.
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