Tag Archives: Boyd Exell

International Stars Shine Bright on Final Day of Royal Windsor Horse Show

The Rolex Grand Prix provided a fitting finale to the four-day Show, with the finest horse and riders in action to compete for the prestigious prize, which went to Gregory Wathelet. The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix came to a close following three days of intense competition, with Boyd Exell taking the spoils. Elsewhere, the Champagne Laurent Perrier Meet of the British Driving Society, featuring Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor, provided a fantastic spectacle and the final of the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games was won by Wales.

WATHELET RIDES TO GLORY IN THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX

The feature CSI5* class of the day, the Rolex Grand Prix, saw the world’s best horse and rider combinations battle it out for the prestigious title. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s up-to-height 1.60m course proved challenging, with only three riders making it through to the jump-off. The likes of World No. 2 Martin Fuchs, World No. 3 Henrik von Eckermann, and London International Horse Show Grand Prix winner, Harry Charles, all accumulated four faults in the first round.

First to go in the jump-off, Belgian Gregory Wathelet, laid down the gauntlet with the tightest of turns to the Rolex double at the far end of the arena and flying down to the final fence to set the time to beat of 34.79 seconds aboard Nevados S. Max Kühner was next to take up the challenge, and he set out meaning business with Elektric Blue P, but he was not able to match Wathelet’s time, leaving it to Daniel Bluman as the final remaining rider able to take over the lead. Bluman was able to get closer to Wathelet’s time, but in doing so accrued four faults at the very last fence, leaving him in third.

Wathelet said: “It is amazing to win a Grand Prix, especially a Rolex Grand Prix. I jumped in the Nations Cup at La Baule last week and the horse was jumping really well, so I was confident coming to Royal Windsor that he was on great form. It was a tough course which was very up to height, but I thought there would be more clears from the top combinations. Even though there weren’t many riders in the jump-off you still have to go fast and clear to win. The Show is incredible; the atmosphere and the crowds are amazing; all of the riders love coming here.”

THE CHARLES DYNASTY RULE AT ROYAL WINDSOR

The Show Jumping got off to an early start with the Protexin Equine Under-25 Jumping Competition featuring Great Britain’s top up-and-coming young riders. Of the seven combinations who went through to the second round, it was Sienna Charles riding Chinta Van Geluut Z who set the pace as second to go, jumping an immaculate round in a time of 34.93 seconds. Those who followed were unable to match Charles’ standard, with Joe Fernyhough coming closest with a clear in a time of 35.42 to finish second, ahead of Oliver Fletcher in third.

A delighted Charles said: “This class is one I’ve always wanted to win; I’ve come close a couple of times so I’m really pleased with how it’s gone today. I was off a lot of last year with injury or illness, so I took her [Chinta Van Geluut Z] to Spain to build up for the season and I’m really happy with her today.”

The Manama Rose Show Stakes was a speed class with riders jumping one round of 12 fences against the clock. Home favourite John Whitaker took an early lead, setting the standard with an impressive display of speed and agility. Compatriot Guy Williams, known for his skill against the clock, set off meaning business, but took an extra pull down to the last, which denied him pole position. It was Britain’s leading lady rider, Holly Smith, who was the first to put Whitaker’s lead in jeopardy, and with a forward stride to the last, shaved 0.61 seconds off his time to take the lead at the midway point.

Shane Breen stepped up the pace once again, galloping flat out to the last to set what looked to be an unbeatable target. However, ultimately it was Harry Charles who showed his class, taking over the lead with just four to go with a slick performance aboard Billabong du Roumois. The 22-year-old shaved off over two seconds from Breen’s time to take the victory, the perfect preparation for the afternoon’s Rolex Grand Prix.

Charles said: “He is a new horse to me, and this is our first win together. He is a fantastic horse, who is extremely fast and has a lot of potential, so I am really excited about our future together. I didn’t watch anyone in the jump-off; I just stuck to my plan which was to start off conservatively and build up the speed as the course went on. I can’t believe that we were two and a half seconds faster than everyone else – it truly is an ode to how fast the horse is. He is very similar to my top horse, Stardust. Both are naturally quick and careful – those horses are hard to beat!”

SHOWING CHAMPIONS CROWNED

Her Majesty The Queen only narrowly missed another win in the show ring. Her home-bred five-year-old Fool’s Paradise — rated “a star in the making” by rider/producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable — was second in the Novice Riding Horse sponsored by Mr and Mrs Phil Swallow. Coincidentally, this lovely gelding is the son of a mare called Stardust, whom Jerram-Hunnable rode to win the Ladies’ Show Horse class twice here in the past. The overall title went to Cheshire producer Vicky Smith with the Mears family’s Times Square.

Chief Showing steward Sebastian Garner was in celebration mode when his daughter Kinvara topped the Intermediate Show Hunters, riding the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding Despicable Me for her employers, Steve Pitt and Vicky Smith.

Senior Castle Arena Showing Steward and long-time Royal Windsor supporter Philip Judge was also beside himself with joy when his oldest son, Harry, seven, won the Lead Rein Show Hunter Pony class with his charming grey pony, Thistledown Snowfall. Judge, who owns an international haulage company, has stewarded at the show for many years, and also competed here as a child.

At the other end of the equine size scale, Forgelands Hyde Park — Friday’s Hack Champion with producer Danielle Heath — returned to the Show to land the Intermediate Championship with his owner’s daughter, Issy Mears.

EXELL SECURES VICTORY

At the end of a thrilling three days of international action, Boyd Exell (AUS) stormed home the winner of the CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix nearly 16 penalties clear of his closest rival, Glenn Geerts (BEL). Having led from the start with an untouchable Dressage score, Boyd held on to his lead through the Marathon phase despite mounting pressure from Geerts and eventual third place Michael Brauchle (GER). However, Exell’s early advantage was too much for his competitors to match, and even a handful of penalties in the Cones kept him well clear of his rivals.

The Team title went to Belgium, whose line-up of Dries Degrieck, Glenn Geerts, and Tom Stokmans clinched the competition by just 0.51 of a point over Germany’s Michael Brauchle, Mareike Harm, and Rene Poensgen.

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Her Majesty The Queen in Jubilant Spirits at Royal Windsor Horse Show

The CSI5* Show Jumping and CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving got underway on day two of Royal Windsor Horse Show, with the world’s best horse and rider combinations in action. Elsewhere, Her Majesty The Queen was in attendance to watch her beloved Fell Pony, Balmoral Leia, being crowned The Horse & Hound Mountain and Moorland Supreme In-Hand Champion and the Jack Wetzel Coaching Marathon provided a spectacle as they headed down the Long Walk.

WORLD’S BEST SHOW JUMPERS RETURN TO CASTLE ARENA

The opening CSI5* class of the Show, a two-phase competition, went to 2020 Olympic team gold medalist Henrik von Eckermann. Guy Williams took the early lead aboard Rouge de Ravel, making all the turns to set a time to beat of 25.66 and giving the crowd something to cheer about. For much of the class, it looked like Williams was going to bring home a British victory; however, Christian Ahlmann riding Calvino 16 rode a masterful second phase against the clock to take the lead. With just four to go, von Eckermann, partnering the nine-year-old mare Iliana, jumped a flawless round to shave 0.04 seconds of Ahlmann’s time to secure the victory.

The feature class of the day, The Pearl Stakes, was a 1.55m jump-off class featuring some of the best horses and riders in the world. Of the 13 combinations going through to the second round, 10 were former World No. 1s. Daniel Deusser set the pace as third to go, with the first double clear in a time of 36.32. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s course proved challenging, with many riders accruing faults when trying to catch Deusser. Jos Velooy came closest with Luciano van het Geinsteinde, posting a time of 37.46. John Whitaker showed his experience to go into third with just two left to go; however, no-one was able to match Deusser’s performance, leaving the German to take the spoils.

Speaking after the class, Deusser said: “Royal Windsor Horse Show is a fantastic event; it is a great feeling to be standing here as the winner in front of such a big crowd and with Windsor Castle in the background. Bingo Ste Hermelle is a small and nimble horse, so I can go very fast in the jump-off. I will give him tomorrow off in preparation for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. I think if I make it to the jump-off on Sunday then we have a very good chance of winning!”

HER MAJESTY’S DELIGHT AS FELL PONY TAKES CHAMPIONSHIP

Showing success continued for Her Majesty The Queen, who was on hand to watch as her beautiful home-bred Highland mare, Balmoral Leia, claimed the prestigious Horse & Hound Mountain and Moorland Supreme In Hand Championship in the Castle Arena.

The five-year-old was beautifully shown by producer Lizzie Briant to win a strong adult class — also watched by Her Majesty — before the reins were handed over to Lizzie’s friend and fellow native pony enthusiast, Henry Hird, in the final reckoning.

“She’s a beautiful mare, and this success is entirely down to Lizzie, who has produced her beautifully — I was just handed the lucky reins for the Championship,” said Henry, who earlier showed The Queen’s yearling colt, Balmoral Duke, to be third in the Strong Youngstock class.

“Leia is such a pretty mare and a joy to have,” added Lizzie. “She is also broken-in to ride, and I have high hopes for her.”

Yorkshireman Robert Walker claimed an impressive fourth consecutive Hunter Championship sponsored by ClipMyHorse.TV title aboard Jill Day’s extraordinary reigning Horse of the Year Show champion View Point.

The prestigious Novice Hunter Championship supported by Alan Marnie Manwah title — always another major aim at Royal Windsor — fell this year to racing enthusiast Liz Prowting’s five-year-old lightweight victor Bloomfield President, ably partnered by young rider Alice Homer.

BOYD EXELL TAKES EARLY LEAD IN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING

Day one of the Royal Windsor CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix went to current indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS), who scored just shy of 80% to clinch a lead in the Dressage. With a margin of just over 5%, he sits ahead of multiple Dutch champion Isjbrand Chardon with a score of 74.3%. In third with 71.8% is Germany’s Mareike Harm, one of two ladies in the Horse Fours class. The USA’s Chester Weber is in fourth. The highest placed British competitor is Daniel Naprous who scored 60.6% to take him into 10th place.  Ahead of Saturday’s Marathon phase – which promises to be an exhilarating test for all 15 drivers – the obstacles look challenging but flow well around the scenic parkland of Windsor Castle. Boyd will be the firm favourite to retain the title he won last year, but Marathon specialists Koos de Ronde and Glenn Gerts will be pushing him all the way.

A WELCOME RETURN TO INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION AT ROYAL WINDSOR ENDURANCE

The Royal Windsor Endurance ride, kindly supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain, took place with fifty-four combinations riding tracks round the stunning Windsor Great Park to compete in CEI3* 160km, CEI2*/YJ 120km, and CEI1*/YJ 100km classes.

Riders representing countries including Uruguay, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, and India set out on Friday morning in near perfect weather conditions. The day remained sunny but cool, and although dusty, the tracks benefitted a little from the rain earlier in the week.

News of the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates emerged during the ride, and as a result some of those representing UAE made the decision to retire.

The CEI3* 160km was won by Bahrain’s HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Coeur De Ghazal in a total time of 07:41:27. The CEI2* 120km had a Bahrain one, two, three and was won by Mohamed Abdulhameed Alhashemi riding Darco la Majorie in a time of 04:58:17. In the CEI1* 100km, it was Kuwait’s Abdalaziz F M D Al Mutairi on Dune Du Claud in 04:36:10. The young riders did not complete.

Great Britain had eleven competitors in total and seven finished, with a particularly strong showing in the 100Km, where all British Riders finished. Nicola Thorne placed second on L.I.Wallonia in 05:00:08 and Annie Joppe third on HS Chiara in 05:22:47.

Royal Windsor Endurance Director, Nick Brooks-Ward, said: “We were so pleased to welcome international competitors back to Royal Windsor Endurance today. The course was excellent and there was a tremendous atmosphere of care and cooperation amongst competitors and crews. We are grateful to the officials, sponsors, and to the Crown Estate whose hard work ensures the fabulous environment in the Great Park. Our very grateful thanks also to the Kingdom of Bahrain for providing the funding for such a tremendous ride.”

President of the Ground Jury, Brian Dunn (IRL), said: “As usual for Royal Windsor, it was a well-run and well-organised event. The course was great, technical, and testing and we had an experienced, capable team of officials. Horses were ably cared for with welfare at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”

President of the Treating Veterinarians, Tom Eaton-Evans (GBR), said: “The sign of a good ride today was that we treated very few horses. Some were kept under observation, but the treating team was quiet all day.  One horse has been taken to Newmarket Equine Hospital for assessment for a hindlimb lameness. No others needed any medical intervention.”

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Boyd Exell Aims to Take His 10th FEI Driving World Cup Championship in Leipzig

Mareike Harm (GER) (FEI/Jon Stroud)

For the first time since 2008 the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final returns to Leipzig (GER) to round off the 2021-22 indoor season. The Driving will take place alongside the FEI World Cup™ Finals for Dressage, Jumping, and Vaulting.

Six of the world’s best international four-in-hand drivers will be vying to take the title in this enthralling event.  Requiring skill, agility, and bravery, teams of four powerful horses must work together as they are steered at the gallop through a combination of obstacles and pairs of cones, with many tight twists and turns.  Although competitors aim for the fastest time, they must also be accurate as penalties are added for any balls that are knocked off.  This event is a popular spectacle which engages the crowd, the electric atmosphere enhanced with rock music and theatrical lighting.

Reigning indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) leads the rankings going into the final.  Winner of more Four-in-Hand World Championships than any other driver, Boyd first took the indoor World Cup title in 2009 in Gothenburg (SWE).  He admits it has been a difficult season, with the early events running so close to each other at the end of 2021, then a long wait until the final.  Having won three of the four qualifying events in Lyon, Stockholm, and then London just before Christmas, Boyd said, “We are keeping our teams, both horse and human, focussed and not taking anything for granted.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the competition.”

Course designer Jeroen Houterman (NED), who designed the tracks in Lyon and London, is keeping his course a secret until he gets to Leipzig.  Mindful of the lack of competition practice the horses have had going into the finals, he has created the sort of test he would produce at the beginning of a season, making it relatively simple.  He hopes his design will encourage flowing driving that is not too difficult on the horses and when walking the course, drivers should be able to see what their options are.

The six qualified finalists are Boyd Exell (AUS), Bram Chardon (NED), who won in Geneva, Koos de Ronde (NED), Glenn Geerts (BEL), Dries Degrieck (BEL), and Mareike Harm (GER).  A seventh, ‘wild card’ competitor has been invited to drive too, Michael Brauchle (GER), but the rules state that he cannot contend for the title.

Competition will be fierce between these talented drivers, with both Koos and Bram being previous title holders, and the home crowd will be cheering loudest for Michael and Mareike, who has the accolade of being the first female to compete at the final.  Mareike had an excellent drive in London and finished in third place, which helped seal her place in Leipzig.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has not been an FEI World Cup™ Final since Bordeaux in February 2020, and this year the event is being held in April, which is later than usual.  However, the drivers, their horses, and the support teams around them are all highly experienced and will have altered their preparation to take this timing into account.

Driving Ground Jury President, Mark Wentein (BEL), said, “After the Covid-19 lockdowns and cancellation of some of the planned FEI World Cup qualifiers, the top drivers from the international driving scene are very keen to start in Leipzig for the final. Personally, I am convinced that the battle and the sporting standards will be very high. You have of course the World Champion and the title holder Boyd Exell (AUS), but perhaps some other drivers will put the pressure on his shoulders. Anyway, Leipzig will host the four different legs of FEI World Cup Finals and will be the most thrilling moment of the indoor season 2021-22. I expect great sportsmanship from all the competitors.”

Further information on the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final can be found here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

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

The World’s Best in Action on Day Three of The London International Horse Show

Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 individual gold medalists Ben Maher and Explosion W took centre stage in a dedicated celebration of his Olympic success. With the crowd on its feet, the pair left the arena to Alesso’s Heroes, a fitting tribute to their outstanding achievement.

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International came to a thrilling conclusion with World No. 1 Boyd Exell coming out on top once again.

It was a busy day for the Show Jumpers, opening with The LeMieux Six Bar, which was shared between Alfie Bradstock and Max Kühner, who both produced faultless performances across the five rounds. World No. 4, Martin Fuchs, made it a London International Horse Show 2021 treble in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes, with The Longines Christmas Cracker going to XX.

Other notable highlights include wins for Jessica Clarehugh with Avonwolf Beanies Dizzy Dora in The Kennel Club Dog Agility Stakes Finals, and Robert Murphy receiving the Ella Popely Award, presented each year in recognition of the rider between the ages of 18 and 25 who has shown the qualities of being a true sportsman or woman: representing the sport well, acting as a team player, and encouraging others to excel.

EXCELLENT EXELL STRIKES AGAIN

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International saw the top three Drivers go through to a drive-off which had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Germany’s Mareike Harm set the pace with an accurate round, finishing with clear in a time of 143.70. Koos De Ronde from The Netherlands was second in and put in an impressive performance to cross the line in 137.25 seconds; however, with four penalties to add, his score of 141.25 left the window open for last to go, Boyd Exell. The Australian was down on the time in the first half; however, a spectacular second section saw him make up over three seconds with no penalties to add, to win by a wide margin.

Exell said: “This is such a fabulous arena; the sound system is great, the crowd sound even clearer, and they are really with you for every turn. We had a change from yesterday; we were resting one of the wheelers as he had done three shows in a row. It was a tactic because we are wildcards. Annabel and Simon Brooks-Ward invited me to be here, so it’s a chance to do well but also to try some different things and it worked out today.”

Great Britain’s Daniel Naprous added: “I just want to say thank you to The London International Horse Show for being brave enough to put on the event and give us somewhere incredible to compete at. The atmosphere has been amazing tonight and I am so grateful to be here.”

JACK’S THE KING OF THE PACK

Nine combinations went through to the jump-off of The Longines Christmas Cracker. Eager to set an unattainable target, the first four to go against the clock all picked up penalties en route. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker was the first to post a clear, jumping a smooth but relatively conservative round aboard Valmy de la Lande to ensure his place in the prizes. With those who followed also accumulating faults in their attempts to increase the pace, Finland’s Noora Forsten was rewarded for her tactics in jumping a steady clear round, finishing in second, with Harry Charles back in third, the fastest of the four faulters.

A delighted Whitaker said: “It’s difficult to put into words to be honest. I’ve been wanting to compete here since I was a little kid. I’ve been coming to this show for as long as I can remember; it’s what I’ve always dreamed of and I got lucky tonight. It wasn’t a great jump-off course for me tonight, and so when I saw the ones ahead of me knocking jumps down, I thought I might get away with just jumping a nice clear, and I did.”

The world’s best Show Jumpers battled it out in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes. The top 10 from the first round went through to the jump-off, carrying forward any penalties incurred. The first to secure the coveted first double clear, Austria’s Max Kühner, set the pace of 39.28 seconds; however, Martin Fuchs, already a double winner at the Show this week, pulled out all the stops to take the lead with an impressive time of 36.20 aboard Tam Tam du Valon.

The Swiss World No. 4 was looking hard to beat. Dutchman Harrie Smolders came close with a beautifully smooth round in a time of 37.72, as did Germany’s Christian Ahlmann; their efforts were only good enough for third and second place, respectively, leaving Fuchs with his third London International Horse Show 2021 victory.

The Lemieux Six Bar provided top-class entertainment. 13 starters lined up to face the six-obstacle course, run over a knock-out format, whereby those jumping clear in the first rounds went through to face the increasingly imposing course. Just two combinations made it to the fifth round, with the final fence standing at an incredible 1.90m – Austria’s Max Kühner riding EIC Coriolis des Isles and Great Britain’s Aflie Bradstock aboard H. d’Or.

Up first, Kühner put on a foot perfect performance to secure his place at the top of the leaderboard and placing the pressure on Bradstock. The Brit rose to the occasion with a fine display of athleticism to match Kühner’s feat and share the honours, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Celebrating his first London International Horse Show victory, Bradstock said: “It’s amazing just to even compete here, and to win something is a real dream come true. This horse is a Puissance specialist, and the Six Bar was a something extra that we thought we may as well give a go while we’re here. I never expected him to do that, but with the support of the audience he just got better and better. The crowd was fantastic; to have the home crowd cheering like that was unbelievable.”

Kühner added: “I’m really enjoying the Show; it’s fantastic because the crowd is still the same; they give us such a boost; it almost feels like we have wings. The London crowd really is stunning;S it was really special. My horse is only nine, but he is incredibly talented already, and has achieved a lot this year. He’s done a great job today and I have a good feeling about tomorrow too.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Dujardin Delivers Sensational Double in London

It was an action packed second day of The London International Horse Show at ExCeL London. In addition to spectacular international competition in three FEI disciplines, Driving, Dressage, and Jumping, the Show hosted a dedicated Medal Parade to celebrate the achievements of the equestrian Team GB athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games and European Championships.

Additional achievements were acknowledged across the course of the day, with the British Equestrian Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Carl Hester and British Dressage International Champions Trophy awarded to Charlotte Dujardin and her Tokyo 2020 Olympic mount Gio, as the highest placed British combination at this year’s championships.

The Services Jumping Championship was won by Sgt Charlotte Lee from the Police, riding Bermudez BDA, the only competitor to jump clear in the second round, with Dawn Weaver’s Ag Ch Galaxy’s Dream Summer winning the Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes Final.

DUJARDIN MAKES IT A DOUBLE

The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse and Hound took centre stage for the evening performance. Great Britain’s Lara Butler set the standard in the first half of the field, producing a solid score of 76.305%. Butler, riding Kristjan, performed a well-executed test, including impeccable flying changes and piaffes, to music which had the crowd clapping along as she completed.

Germany’s Frederic Wandres, runner-up in last night’s FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, riding Duke of Britain FRH was the first to mount a challenge to Butler’s lead. Wandres demonstrated the qualities which have contributed to him being the current leader of the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League to post an outstanding score of 80.260%.

British Tokyo 2020 team bronze medalist Lottie Fry capped a fantastic year, posting an outstanding score of 81.945 to take over the lead. Riding the 13-year-old gelding, Dark Legend, Fry started strongly with a piaffe passage and despite scoring slightly lower in the middle section, finished well to put the pressure on the final two riders.

Last to go, Charlotte Dujardin, is not one to shy away from pressure, and once again proved why she is Great Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian. Aboard Gio, her Tokyo mount, Dujardin rode her Olympic Freestyle test for just the third time, demonstrating quality in abundance, with each movement perfectly in time to the music. She was rewarded by a phenomenal score of 89.040 to take her fifth London International Horse Show FEI World Cup Freestyle victory, with teammate Fry in second and Wandres in third.

Watching from the crowd, mentor and British teammate, Carl Hester, said: “It’s an amazing score and he’s an amazing horse who gives his all; they thoroughly deserve it. The programme is extremely difficult as you could see. It’s a little bit disturbing when you watch somebody so good and a horse that’s so good that you don’t realise how difficult the movements that she’s doing are, because she spins together these incredible movements and the horse just responds so beautifully, so I’m not surprised at the score.”

Dujardin added: “I’ve just finished off the most incredible year in the best way possible. He truly is a very special horse; his very first Olympics, his very first Europeans, and now he’s just finished the year off winning the World Cup here at The London International Horse Show – what a legend. There’s nothing like riding in front of your home crowd, having them cheering you on. I’ve really missed everyone and I would like to thank everyone for coming and supporting.”

EXELL EXCELS AT THE EXCEL

The first leg of the FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International was won by Boyd Exell, a regular winner here in London. The Australian’s masterful display of horsemanship was over seven seconds fast than the runner-up, Koos de Ronde from The Netherlands, in the drive-off, with Dries Degrieck back in third.

The five-time World Four-in-Hand champion and nine-time FEI World Cup Driving Champion was already looking forward to the final leg: “Statistically, Koos [De Ronde] and Ijsbrand [Chardon] are the biggest threats. Ijsbrand was a little bit off the pace today; however, previously he’s been off the pace the first day and much better the second, and often can win the final, so he’s definitely one to watch out for. He does have a little bit more to do than usual, but tomorrow is another day, so let’s wait and see.”

Exell continued, “This new venue is amazing; it’s brilliant for the horses. There’s loads of space, brand new stables, everything for us as competitors is fantastic. Obviously, the Olympia building in the evenings was a lovely setting, but as a sport, we have to evolve and progress, and this facility has the opportunity to do that.”

GREAT BRITAIN DOMINATES ON DAY TWO

The opening CSI5* contest of the day was a two-phase competition whereby all those clear over the first seven fences went on to the second phase against the clock. The first to mount a challenge, Great Britain’s John Whitaker, a legend of the sport, laid down the gauntlet as fifth to go, riding Green Grass. The 66-year-old demonstrated why he is still at the top of the sport, with an extremely tight and fast second phase, jumping clear in 27.16 seconds. Those who followed failed to match Whitaker. Compatriot Sameh El Dahan aboard WKD Toronto came close, posting a time of 28.41 seconds to go into second, and Frenchman Mathieu Billot, as last to go, looked to put Whitaker’s lead under threat, but could only manage enough for third.

The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes was awarded to Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Harry Charles, riding Borsato. 10 combinations went forward to the jump-off, with Great Britain’s talented young rider Jack Whitaker paving the way. Whitaker meant business from the start, jumping an impressive clear in a time of 35.98 seconds to set the standard. Germany’s Marcus Ehning survived a rub at the penultimate fence to take over pole position at the midway point, shaving 0.83 seconds off Whitaker’s time; however, it was Harry Charles who had the crowd on its feet as he made all the moves to take the lead with just three to go. Charles’ target of 34.07 seconds proved impossible to beat, as those who followed, including dual winner Martin Fuchs, incurred penalties in their attempts to match the pace required.

A delighted Charles said: “I was actually quite shocked when I finished, as I didn’t realise I was that much quicker than him [Marcus Ehning]. It’s not every day you can be that much quicker than Marcus. I thought the jump-off went quite well; in places I thought I was a little bit unsteady, but it all worked out in the end and I’m absolutely delighted.”

EQUESTRIAN TEAM GBR MEDAL PARADE

Ben Maher MBE and his Olympic gold medal-winning partner, Explosion W, led the celebratory medal parade featuring many of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic equestrian heroes. The parade provided fans with an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional performances from the summer, which also included a successful European Championships and Driving World Championship for Ponies. The medalists were joined in the arena by their owners and grooms, all pivotal to the successes achieved over the course of the year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

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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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.

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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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Charlotte Dujardin and Boyd Exell among World’s Best Dressage and Driving Stars Heading to Olympia

Dressage

Britain’s best horse and rider combinations will be gracing the Olympia Grand for the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix and FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle to Music, both supported by Horse & Hound, on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 December.

Triple Olympic gold medalist, Charlotte Dujardin CBE, will be riding her exciting Olympic prospect Mount St John Freestyle, and Carl Hester MBE brings with him his top ride Hawtins Delicato, giving spectators the chance to witness world-class action across the two nights of Dressage competition.

With the 2020 Olympics fast approaching, Olympia will be a pivotal event for competitors, both in terms of preparation and as a crucial opportunity to impress the Team GB selectors. Successful results at the Show could have an impact on team selection for Tokyo next year.

Keen to impress the selectors will be four-time Olympian and former British number one Richard Davison riding Bubblingh, a combination who were part of the winning FEI CDIO5* Nations Cup team in Compiègne earlier this year. He will be joined by teammate from that event, Charlotte Fry, riding the ten-year-old stallion, Everdale. Olympia will also welcome Lara Butler, aboard Rubin Al Asad. The combination was part of the second-placed team in the CDIO3* Nations Cup at Hickstead, where she also won the individual Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle to Music titles. Rounding up a strong British contingent will be Louise Bell and Gareth Hughes, both of whom are having a career-best season, having each broken several personal best scores.

Heading a strong international challenge will be 2018 Olympia victors Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED), who returns with Glock’s Dream Boy N.O.P, the combination which won the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix supported by Horse & Hound last year, and Frederic Wandres (GER), who took the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle supported by Horse & Hound from Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, despite finishing on the same score.

Following a successful summer, which included victory in the Grand Prix Special at Hickstead, Portugal’s João Miguel Torrao, a pupil of Carl Hester, will also be one to watch, riding his 10-year-old Quo Vadis stallion, Equador.

The full Dressage line-up can be found here.

Driving

With four of the world’s top five Drivers set to take their place in the starting line-up at Olympia, the competition will be hotter than ever.

World No. 1 Boyd Exell returns to the Show seeking to continue where he left off, following his emphatic victory in the FEI Driving World Cup Leg last year. The Australian driver, FEI World Equestrian Games gold medalist at the last three consecutive Games, comes to Olympia on the back of a superb victory in the FEI Driving World Cup of Stuttgart in November.

One of Exell’s closest rival, Dutchman Koos de Ronde, the World No. 4, also returns to the Show, looking to put the pressure on the man who has dominated the sport for so long. Fellow countryman Ijsbrand Chardon, currently ranked third in the world, and runner-up to Exell at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, will be another to provide a significant challenge.

World No. 5, Chester Weber, representing the USA, team gold medalist from the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, will be another to look out for, as will Britain’s Daniel Naprous, famed for his work as a stunt rider in productions such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars, with his trademark tight turns and unwavering pace.

The confirmed Driving entries can be found here.

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The Legendary Boyd Exell Comes Flying Through

Image copyright PSV.

The 2019/2020 season of the FEI Driving World Cup has begun. The very best drivers got together at Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for this first four-horse indoor driving meeting. At the end of a drive-off reserved for the three best teams from the first round, Boyd Exell – the world number one and a true legend in the discipline – won the event with a masterful performance. The Australian combined speed and precision in this spectacular class. He won the event in a time of 142”70, with second place going to the young and promising Dutchman Bram Chardon (26) – who won the FEI World Cup Driving Final last year – in a time of 148”99. Third place went to the Hungarian József Dobrovitz in 173”14.

Leading their four horses with their guiding reins and the sound of their voices, the drivers demonstrated the full potential of their horses and the true teamwork achieved with their grooms. “We had a great day of sport. I competed for a long time against Ijsbrand Chardon. Today, it is his son Bram who has taken over. He is a great competitor and improving each year. It’s great for our discipline: it pushes everyone to get better and it will take elite driving to a new level,” said Boyd Exell, four-time world champion and seven-time FEI World Cup Final winner. The Boyd Exell/Bram Chardon duel has truly started. “This time it was Boyd’s turn to win. Next time, it’ll be mine!” said the young Dutchman, with a smile.

Benjamin Aillaud represented France at the event, with four new horses. “I have gone back to my first love by assembling a new team of Lipizzan horses. The objective is to really make a mark in indoor driving with these horses,” said the Frenchman, who was seventh in the event.

Part of the Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for the second year in a row, four-horse indoor driving was once again a great success on the last day of the show. “We are very proud to host this discipline in Lyon. The audience is really starting to enjoy the discipline. I am really pleased that the best drivers in the world come to compete here;” said Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, before adding: “This year’s Equita Lyon attracted a record number of visitors. All the people involved contributed to making this year’s show a success.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com