The Hickstead crowd witnessed a nail biting climax to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at Hickstead with a head-to-head battle between Team Ireland and Team GBR.
The Irish team of Trevor Breen (Bombay), Richie Moloney (Freestyle De Muze), Michael Duffy (EFS Top Contender) and Anthony Condon (SFS Aristio) were on superb form to lift the Edward, Prince of Wales trophy. It was the fourth time in the history of this competition that Ireland has won, while Great Britain was denied what would have been their 37th win and their first home win since 2010.
“It’s obviously no surprise that the English and Irish were on top – the conditions were not easy but like everyone said the ground showed a lot of support and enabled us to have a good competition,” said Ireland’s chef d’equipe Rodrigo Pessoa. “In the jump-off we had the advantage of going after Great Britain and we could see what we had to do. Anthony did a superb job to bring it home.”
Britain and Ireland had been neck and neck from the start. In round one, Richie Moloney had gone clear while Trevor, Michael and Anthony each had just one fence down for Ireland. Britain had had a tougher task in round one, when pathfinder Scott Brash’s horse took aversion to the water and was eliminated after two refusals. It piled pressure on his three team mates, but Holly Smith and Amanda Derbyshire both finished on four faults apiece and William Whitaker gave Great Britain a boost when producing the home nation’s only clear in round one. Belgium were close behind on nine faults, last year’s winners Brazil tied with Sweden and the Netherlands in fourth with 16 faults while Italy sat at the bottom of the leaderboard with 17 faults.
Things unravelled for the Netherlands in the second half when Johnny Pals added 23 faults to their tally, so they retired into seventh place. Britain’s Scott Brash had no more luck getting Hello Shelby over the water in the second round, so once again Team GBR was down to three riders.
Ireland’s first two riders, Trevor and Richie, both finished on four faults while Michael went clear. Amanda Derbyshire gave Britain a clear while Holly and William both knocked one fence down, so the teams were tied on 16 faults each. Ireland’s Anthony Condon would have had to jump clear to give Ireland the win, but when he also faulted it meant the two teams would have to jump off.
Holly Smith, who has superb form at Hickstead, was elected to jump against the clock with the talented Hearts Destiny. She delivered a perfect clear in a time of 43.39sec to keep British hopes alive. But Anthony Condon and the 12-year-old SFS Aristio got home more than 2sec faster in a time of 41.29sec to give Ireland the win.
“I got to see Holly’s round, and her horse has got a big stride and is quite fast, but my horse is very fast so I had to go at his pace, and it worked,” said Anthony. “He tried his heart out and was very quick to the last but he’s very careful so I could keep going.”
Britain’s Holly Smith said: “I think if we’d had four team members all jumping we’d have won it but that’s horses – they’re unpredictable and it does happen.”
Last year’s winners Brazil had to settle for third place, although their anchorman Marlon Modola Zanotelli did win the £50,000 bonus for jumping the only double clear on Sirene De La Motte.
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain brought Hickstead’s international season to a close. The next national fixtures are the two-day Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships (1&2 August) and the All England Jumping Championships (30 August – 2 September).
James Whitaker and Glenavadra Brilliant crowned BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup victors at Hickstead.
A tricky first round saw just four riders go clear, with James lining up alongside three lady riders – the class used to be an international class open to women only but changed in 2008 to become a national class that both men and women could enter.
Eventing Team GBR Olympian and Rolex Grand Slam winner, Pippa Funnell was the first to go in the jump-off with her husband William’s former ride, and homebred, Billy Congo. A clear in a time of 54.34sec put pressure on her rivals, before second to go Alison Barton had her hopes dashed when Roma IV picked up four faults. James and Glenavadra Brilliant were next, and he managed to use the horse’s long stride to cross the finish on 52.97sec to take the lead. The last to go was Helen Tredwell and the grey Larksong, and while they were more than 2sec faster, the final fence fell to cost them the win.
James, the son of Ian Whitaker and the nephew of legendary showjumpers John and Michael, celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, so today he also picked up the Cindy Mead Memorial Trophy for the best placed rider under 25. He took over the ride on Glenavadra Brilliant from his elder brother William, who won the Hickstead Derby with the horse in 2016. James and Glenavadra Brilliant had a good result in their Al Shira’aa Derby debut last month, finishing fifth, but this was their first international win at Hickstead.
“He loves big grass arenas like this, and he always seems to perform well here,” said James. “When I saw Pippa go I thought there’s no way I’m going to beat that! It’s unreal – a dream come true. Winning a class like this was definitely on the bucket list.”
His brother William Whitaker came very close to winning the final class of the day, the British Speed Classic, but in the end he was relegated into second by Ireland’s Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan.
The pair came third in last month’s Al Shira’aa Derby and won the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial. "A speed class like this inspires him and keeps him keen," said Shane. "I don’t use him as a speed horse as such – he jumps Derbies, Grands Prix, teams – I love him because he’s so versatile. He’s a very good horse to have in the stable. Next year I think he’s got a great chance in the Al Shira'aa Derby and in the King George – he’s so useful.”
It was incredibly tight in this morning’s Bunn Leisure Salver, with just 0.65sec dividing the top three. The USA’s Laura Kraut (Nouvelle) was the fastest of all in 37.11sec, with Belgium’s Wilm Vermier (DM Jacqmotte) in second and Brazil’s Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (Isabeau De Laubry) third.
“I saw Marlon go and he’s one of the fastest riders in the world. He was so smooth and I thought I just can’t hold back,” said Laura, the partner of Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton. “Nouvelle is just wonderful – I’ve had her for about eight years and she’s just always been riddled with bizarre injuries so she’s actually fairly low mileage.”
Talked about as the world's greatest event - whether it be show jumping, dressage or eventing. Elite equestrian's flock to the world famous German venue for the CHIO fixture, with the focal point being the Rolex Grand Prix.
As the second Major of 2018, Aachen is a dream win for any competitor. This year saw a second win for home favourite Marcus Ehning riding Pret A Tout. Horse and rider produced three exceptional clear rounds in the highlight of CHIO Aachen, the Rolex Grand Prix. Second place went to Luciana Diniz (POR) riding Fit For Fun 13 and third place to Pedro Veniss (BRA) riding Quabri De l’Isle.
The sun streamed through the clouds to light up the main arena, as 40,000 passionate equestrian fans waited for the world’s top international riders to contend for the second Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Highly respected course designer of 40 years, Frank Rothenberger, assembled an impressive first round with 13 obstacles, reaching up to 1.70 metres. “It’s a very tough course this year, there will be two rounds with a tricky jump-off too, we have built a course almost to the maximum that we can build, so it should be very interesting”, Rothenberger commented.
The towering course appeared intimidating, and one capacity height jump certainly proved too challenging for some, however the roster of riders tackled the course with confidence, power and determination. This thrilling round resulted in 11 clears, and 18 pairs moved into round two with an enraptured crowd looking on.
Emotions were running high in the crowd, and Marcus Ehning rode out to a stampede of applause. After coming second in the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters, the first Major of the year, the patriotic home crowd were longing for him to go one step further. Ehning flew around the course in a time of 38.34 seconds and the crowd erupted to celebrate his third stunning clear round. Diniz also went clear with the fantastic support of the crowd but was unable to beat the winning time, giving Ehning the Rolex Grand Prix title.
Champion of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen for the second time, Ehning remarked, “I think I like it here now. This is the best show in the world and the course was huge, but I think it was very good. My horse gave me a lot of confidence, it was his day today.”
Show Director Frank Kemperman explains “For Marcus, his Grand Slam journey has started, he will now be able to continue it at Spruce Meadows. I would like to say a special thanks to Rolex for their support in this Grand Prix, this is the 18th Rolex Grand Prix we have hosted here, and it creates such a spectacular atmosphere.”
Eager equestrian fans will now be looking to the next equestrian Major at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, where Ehning will now have the chance to emulate his thrilling performance today and continue his reign as the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
An early birthday present for, Dutchman, Kevin Jochems as Captain Cooper claims Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup at the Hickstead Royal International.
This prestigious €150,000 Grand Prix was first held in 1911, and it remains a class that every top showjumper wants to win. In his first five-star season and first Hickstead, the rising Dutch star, who celebrates his 23rd birthday on the final day of the show (Sunday 29 July), lead from the start to claim the iconic trophy.
Despite the disadvantage of going first in the jump-off, Kevin clocked up a fast clear in a time of 50.35sec with the 11-year-old Captain Cooper, and none of the other six riders to follow him could catch his time.
“I had a very, very good feeling about my horse today. The jump-offs were very long lines which suits my horse, so I went as fast as possible. When I came out I said, ‘I think that is quick enough’,” said Kevin.
“I can’t quite describe the feeling – I already feel very honoured to be here at Hickstead and to be in the [Nations Cup] team on Sunday. It’s incredible that my name is going to be on this trophy alongside these names and I’m part of that now.
“My parents are farmers and I’ve been riding ponies since I was six. About a year ago I moved to be based with Leon Thijssen, and I now have a couple of great horses and some great opportunities.”
Italy’s Massimo Grossato and Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire took second and third place respectively. Like Kevin, both riders were making their debut at this showground.
“This is his first five-star Grand Prix and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Amanda. “The advice from Nick Skelton was go in to win it and I thought I was really fast but obviously I wasn’t!”
In the Bunn Leisure International Stakes, Great Britain’s Joe Clayton took the spoils on Carolus K DHI, keeping Ireland’s Trevor Breen and Noble Warrior in second place.
Carolus K DHI lives with his owner Jane Heerbeck, who lives about five minutes away from Joe’s new base in Melton Mowbray, and Joe only rides the horse at shows. “It was all down to the horse – I didn’t think I gave it the best ride, but he is naturally quick, and he gives you confidence because you know you can trust him to the fences. He loves that Arena – he loves big open spaces where he can run and jump.”
Britain’s William Funnell, who finished on just one time fault in the King’s Cup with his Al Shira’aa Derby winner Billy Buckingham, did secure a win in the Old Lodge International 7 & 8 Year Old qualifier with the seven-year-old Billy Kodak.
More young riders than ever will have the chance to compete here at the famous All England Jumping Course, due to the expansion of the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships.
The annual showjumping competition will now run over two days (1-2 August) instead of one, with a number of new championship classes added to the schedule. On the Wednesday, the Hickstead Elite NSEA Individual Championship will take place in the International Arena, while the Hickstead 1.00m NSEA Team Championship will run concurrently in ring 4, with the best six teams going forward to the final deciding round in the International Arena later in the day.
The first day of the show will also include a new 80-85cm Individual Championship, which will be an ideal supporting class for those riders competing on the Wednesday, plus it will act as the perfect warm-up for Thursday’s Finals.
The second day of this ‘Schools Festival’ will once again include finals for Junior Schools, Senior Schools and Branches of the Pony Club. However, there can now be up to 4 riders per team in both Schools Divisions, meaning teams will have a ‘drop’ score for the first time in the 55-year history of the competition. In addition, the Junior Schools class will now be held over a 90cm course, following a successful trial in 2017.
As usual, the teams must qualify in the outer rings with the top 10 going through to a final in the International Arena (eight in the Pony Club Final), home to famous classes such as the Al Shira’aa Derby, the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain.
“The Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships have been part of our annual fixture list since the 1960s, and past competitors have included Pippa Funnell, Jodie Kidd, Robert Whitaker and the Duchess of York,” says Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn.
“We wanted to expand this popular event and give more young equestrians the chance to gain experience round our International Arena. We also hope the new classes will encourage more schools and Branches of the Pony Club from around the country to make the journey to Hickstead.”
Entries are now open and schedules can be downloaded here, with admission to the show completely free to spectators.
For details and timetables, visit www.hickstead.co.uk.