Breen's Daughter Follows In Fathers Footsteps
Handcross Park School were victorious in the Junior Schools’ competition at the Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships at Hickstead (3 August). The trio of Bryony Martin (Golden Liberty II), Brooke Tusler (Elliot I Am) and Lorna Breen (Dorrito) were the only team to produce three clear rounds to take the title.
Lorna follows in her parents’ footsteps - her father is top Irish international showjumper Shane Breen while her mother Chloe (nee Bunn) is also a successful rider as well as being the daughter of Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn. The family lives at Hickstead Place, so the win came on home turf for the young rider.
“I have had Dorrito for a year now, and he mainly does showjumping,” said Lorna, 10. “Winning today was better than watching daddy's wins here!”
Imogen Hule from the Godolphin School took the top spot in the Senior Schools Individual Final.
“I have been waiting for years for this moment!” said a delighted Imogen, 18. “I have been trying for six years consecutively to win this final and it has finally happened.”
In the teams, Millfield won for the third time in four years, having already taken the title in 2014 and 2016. The trio of Flo Norris (Darling HDX), Alanna Clements (Tinka’s Rox) and Katy Cabourne (Cupid) all produced clear first rounds and had to jump-off against New Hall School in Chelmsford, but a steady clear by Flo Norris was enough to seal the win for Millfield.
“It was amazing as I won here last year on the same horse so this has just topped it off,” said Flo, who came third individually as well behind her team mate Katy, who had to ride one of the horses belonging to her school after her own pony went lame the day before the competition. “This is the first time I have ever ridden him let alone jumped him, but he was amazing and so easy,” said Katy.
Pony Club Final
Event rider Emma Thomas, 18, from the Warwickshire Hunt Branch won the National Pony Club Championship at Hickstead. She finished nearly a second faster than her nearest rival in the final jump-off to land the title on her mare Cyclone.
“To win at Hickstead is brilliant, the atmosphere is amazing,” she said. “My tactics for the jump-off were just to go for it, I had nothing to lose. She was perfect everywhere, she just flew.”
In the team section, Garth Hunt members Lucas Peries (Lorna’s Pride), Isobel Stenning (Dunuce Rolling Thunder), Megan Day (Cluoin Carin Mirah) and Ellie Francis (Gatestown Diva) took the title after a deciding jump-off against East Hertfordshire Hunt.
Both teams had finished on a score of zero, but Garth Hunt team member Megan Day claimed victory in a jump-off against East Hertfordshire Hunt rider Abbi Jackson.
“I only got back from travelling on my gap year two days ago, so I’ve just jumped him once before coming here,” said Megan, 18, who has spent the last month living in a jungle in Borneo. “Winning here today is just unbelievable.”
British Victory In Iconic Hickstead Derby
Britain’s Nigel Coupe rode Golvers Hill to victory in the Al Shira’aa Derby today at Hickstead, following a two-way jump-off with Harriet Nuttall.
Nigel, 46, first rode in this class in 1990 and has been knocking on the Derby door for a number of years, finishing second in 2015 and fifth in this class 12 months ago. Nigel was the first rider to produce a faultless round, and for a long time he remained the sole clear, until Harriet Nuttall, the third last combination to go, and A Touch Imperious produced a foot perfect round to herald in a jump off.
Nigel set a fair pace but left the door open for Harriet lowering the Derby rails after the open water. Harriet had a decision to make, risk going for a steady clear or put your foot down and go for it. It looked as if it was the steady clear option as she was behind on Nigel's time. It was yet again the Derby rails that caught her out and forced her to kick on to make up the time, seeing the final fence fall as well.
Harriet knows what second place feels like all too well having held that position in the Derby for three consecutive years and finishing second in this year's British Speed Derby, a class she won here 12 months ago.
But while there was disappointment for Harriet, for Nigel and Golvers Hill it was a day of celebrations as the Lancashire-based rider finally had his name added to the iconic Boomerang Trophy. He also gets to take home and keep the new Al Shira’aa Trophy, made specially for this year's sponsorship.
“It’s amazing – however you imagine it would be to win the Derby, it probably feels about 100 times better!” said Nigel. “It’s an amazing venue and the ground is second to none. I’d come down to Hickstead when I was on ponies, and then stay on to watch the Derby."
Nigel paid tribute to Golvers Hill, Susan Simmons' 14-year-old Irish Sports Horse gelding who came to Hickstead on the back of a recent win in the Hamburg Derby Trial.
“If you haven’t got a horse capable you won’t be anywhere near winning. I’m forever indebted to him,” he added. “He likes the limelight. There are probably better, more talented horses out there but he just loves his job. It’s without a doubt my biggest win.”
There hasn’t been a female winner of the Hickstead Derby since 2011 when Tina Fletcher won on board Promised Land. While Harriet Nuttall came tantalisingly close to becoming the sixth woman to take the title today, another lady rider marked herself as one to watch in future renditions of the class, with Leicestershire’s Holly Smith finishing third equal on Quality Old Joker, the winner of Thursday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
Holly shared third spot on four faults with two Irish riders – Billy Twomey (Diaghilev), who like Harriet has finished second for the past two years; and former World Champion Dermott Lennon (Gelvins Touch).
The Al Shira’aa Derby marked the finale of the four-day Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, but in just over four weeks’ time the All England Jumping Course Hickstead will play host to the five-star Longines Royal International Horse Show.
Catch Ride Wins British Speed Derby
Yorkshireman, Matthew Sampson adds his name to the British Speed Derby roll of honour at Hickstead.
The 26-year-old set a blisteringly quick time of 92.73sec on Topflight True Carlo, a catch ride having not sat on the horse for three years.
Matthew had a nervous wait, after being drawn 11th to go, right until the very end of the class, with the 2014 and 2015 winner Guy Williams (Casper De Muze) and last year’s Speed Derby victor Harriet Nuttall (Silver Lift) the last riders to go.
When Guy felt his dual champion horse tiring round the lengthy, twisty course he eased up a bit, finishing clear in 95.59sec. Only Harriet could stop Matthew from lifting the trophy, and she set off meaning business. Nuttall produced the quickest time of the day in 90.75sec, but a four-second penalty for lowering a pole relegated her to second place.
It was a first major international win at Hickstead for Matthew, who picked up the ride on Topflight True Carlo at the last minute when the horse’s regular rider couldn’t compete in the class.
“I’ve been coming here to Hickstead since I was a little kid and watching it on television – this class is one that everyone wants to win,” said Matthew, who came third in this class behind Guy and Harriet in 2014. “Everything came together today, and he loves that arena.”
The horse’s owner Christine Spanner added: “I’m speechless. I’ve watched this class since I was a young child – I can’t thank Matt enough for what he’s done. I’ve had the horse since he was five months old, and he’s 13 now. I still ride him every day, and competed him in showjumping, eventing, hunting, team chasing - you name it.”
Guy Williams did have cause for celebration earlier on today when he won the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy with new ride Rouge De Ravel.
Guy has only had the ride on the 12-year-old stallion since April, but they’ve already picked up some superb results and Guy rates him as “one of the best horses I’ve had”.
“He’s only ever jumped 1.35m and 1.40m classes so this was the biggest course he’s seen, but he’s brave, he’s competitive, he jumps the biggest things and just keeps winning. He doesn’t spook but he’s quite feisty which I think helps,” Guy added.
Guy plans to bring him back to Hickstead next month for the Longines King George V Gold Cup, the Grand Prix finale of the Longines Royal International Horse Show (25-30 July).
Whitaker One-Two In Derby Trial
British Show Jumping legend Michael Whitaker took the win in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial at Hickstead, ahead of his 27-year-old nephew William Whitaker in second place.
Only three riders jumped clear in the first round of the Derby Trial course, which introduces many of Hickstead’s famous natural obstacles and decides the starting field for Sunday’s Al Shira’aa Derby, with the top 35 qualifying.
Reigning Derby champions William Whitaker and Glenavadra Brilliant were the first to go in the jump-off, setting a time of 70.25sec but knocking the final fence to end on four faults. Next in was Michael with his 15-year-old chestnut Viking, who jumped clear in a time of 71.50sec. The final rider into the International Arena was Joss Williams (Culmore Prospect), but eight faults ended their hopes and gave Michael, 57, the win.
Michael has won the Derby four times – the first time in 1980 when he was just 20, and then again three years in a row from 1991-1993 with the great Monsanta. He plans to ride Gentleman in the Al Shira’aa Derby, and now must decide whether to give his Nations Cup regular Viking a chance in the feature class as well.
“I’m in two minds about whether to do the Derby with him on Sunday,” he said, adding that he would need to discuss with the Performance Manager for Jumping, Di Lampard, in case the horse will be needed for British team duties. “He’s never been in the Derby before, but as he’s getting older he’s more rideable - he was a bit wild when he was younger.”
Holly Smith Back On Winning Form
Four months after breaking her leg in a riding fall, Holly Smith wins the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
Holly was out of the saddle for 13 weeks after breaking her leg in a fall at home back in February. But after extensive rehabilitation she has returned to top level competition, and there was no stopping the Leicestershire rider today as she claimed the top prize in the 1.50m competition with the nine-year-old Quality Old Joker.
Holly was the fastest of seven riders in the jump-off, finishing more than a second quicker than Ireland’s Billy Twomey (Eindhoven GH) in second place.
“He’s got such a big stride, and he was exceptional out there – I have a lot of Irish horses who respond well to being dared,” Holly said about Quality Old Joker. “He’ll jump in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial tomorrow, and probably have a crack at the Al Shira’aa Derby on Sunday.”
The first international class of the show was the Stoner Jewellers Vase, with the top prize going to Nottinghamshire’s Louise Saywell. Riding the 14-year-old stallion Peiter VI, Louise set a quick time of 71.83sec that no one else could match.
"I wasn’t nervous watching, though I did think the time was beatable – I didn’t go all out. He goes into the ring and gives 110% every time. He made the turns and he’s just naturally fast – if I get it right with him he’ll win it.”
Today’s victory was significant for Louise, who hasn’t won a big class at Hickstead since she was on ponies. “The last time I had a big win here it was on 12.2hhs,” she added.
Polo player turned showjumper Max Routledge also enjoyed a successful day at the All England Jumping Course. The Surrey-based rider won the Astore & Sons 1.35m Open Championship with Lord Of Arabia, as well as the Annual Grade C Championship on Centos Girl.
Heavyweights Head To Hamburg
The Longines Global Champions Tour of Hamburg will see a formidable line up of show jumping heroes, as the fifth leg of the Championship race puts the pedal to the metal. Last year nearly 90,000 spectators flocked to the event and this year’s edition looks set to be another full house.
Currently in second position in the overall ranking, Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) will be looking to take advantage of the absence of current ranking leader Lorenzo de Luca and shake up the leaderboard. With three podiums out of four events under his belt so far, the on-form Dutch star has narrowed the points difference to just 9, and will be fighting tooth and nail to keep his Championship Title dream alive.
Reigning LGCT Champion of Champions Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) will return to the Tour with his incredible stallion Casall ASK to compete in their final CSI5* show before the top stallion is officially retired in a ceremony following Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix.
Two-time LGCT Champion of Champions Scott Brash (GBR) is a man who knows exactly what it takes to win the prestigious title, and will be back for round five this weekend in Hamburg. Home-grown legend Ludger Beerbaum (GER), wowed the home crowd last year with a thrilling fairy-tale finish in the LGCT Grand Prix. Speaking ahead of the event this week Ludger said: “I am really looking forward to Hamburg, it is always a bit more pressure in front o your home crowd but it is a great feeling to rider there and the public is amazing.”
As the 2017 Global Champions League accelerates, two superstars of show jumping give an insight into how they are plotting a path to glory and which team will take the final podium win.
Fresh from their triumph in Madrid - with an impressive clean scoresheet as the only team to jump two double clears - the formidable pair of Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher will be back in action for the team in Hamburg and have a laser-like focus on winning the GCL crown, and some serious prize money.
Ludger predicts the key factor for the winning team in 2017 will be the most consistent clear rounds and consistently fielding the strongest tactical combination to suit particular events.
Here is a glimpse into the strategic thinking of the Cannes Stars maestros ahead of the fifth team competition in Hamburg on Friday and Saturday.
Talking in the GCT TV studio following the win, Ludger said: "If you have such a season with 15 competitions, in the end you can always talk about time and speed but what matters is consistency and accurate rounds. In the end if you can count a number of clear rounds, the one who will win will be the team with the most clear rounds, there is no doubt about it. There might be a leg where you really have to go fast, but at the end of the day I am sure the team with the most clear rounds will be on top of the podium.
"We knew Eric (Lamaze) and Harrie (Smolders) were really, really fast on two fast horses. There was no plan to try and beat them on time, so we stuck to two clears and it really paid off."
Teammate Marco Kutscher, agreed, explaining how the new format has improved this season: "This year there is a new format and it worked out really well for us. We both brought our best horses here and we saved them for the second round of the League class and it worked out really well and we are really pleased. We are getting better and better. We know each other very well and for sure that helps."
All the action will be streamed live via the LGCT and GCL websites, and fans can keep up to date on the official social media channels featuring exclusive content, behind the scenes access and more.
#RWIHS British Riders Shine In 5* Performance
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.
The much awaited CSI5* Show Jumping 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.
#RWIHS Win For Georgia
Framed by the most spectacular backdrop on the British Show Jumping circuit, the Land Rover Grades A and B Competition kicked off the week's Show Jumping classes at the Royal Windsor International Horse Show. British rider, Georgia Tame and her gelding Acoustik Solo Du Baloubet claimed the title after producing a stunning round in 33.19 secs. The course, set in the Castle Arena, proved tricky with only 14 of the 37 competitors moving into the second phase. Olympic Gold Medallist, Laura Kraut (USA), set the pace aboard her eight-year-old, Caelle, finishing in 36.13 secs, but it was only fast enough to secure third place with Keith Doyle and Harlequin Dunraven taking second place.
Aofie O'Connor and Billy Du Montois were victorious in the prestigious Walwyn Novice Jumping Championship following a thrilling round in 42.95 secs. Spectators were treated to a spectacular competition with only one second separating the top three. Sally Goding came a close second to O'Connor in the time of 43.29 secs with Jay Halim finishing in touching distance, 43.39 secs to take third place.
Panthers Take It Up A Gear In Shanghai
Paris Panthers turned up the heat in the Global Champions League ranking with a thrilling win in Shanghai with fans on the edge of their seats until the final fence. Darragh Kenny and Jack Hardin Towell sealed victory after a major upset saw leading team St Tropez Pirates tumble from pole position to 8th overall.
Today’s dramatic team competition went down to the wire and ended with the GCL season leaderboard tighter than ever. Valkenswaard United’s heavyweight squad ensured they held on to their lead for the third leg in a row. New recruit Marcus Ehning proved he was a strong signing and went clear in his GCL debut pairing with Alberto Zorzi today for the Final in Shanghai. The team are on 74 points overall and only 6 points ahead of second place London Knights who jumped ahead of St Tropez Pirates, now in third position, in the ranking.
The GCL competition was not short of drama as the heavyweights of show jumping ensured a formidable calibre of competition. Uliano Vezzani's course was a tough test for the world’s best, featuring formidable oxers, a distracting water tray and delicate verticals. A challenging dog-leg back to the in-gate caught out a few combinations. Others rolled poles in the Longines combination set against the long side of the arena, where the challenge was the short four strides to a big oxer to finish in a time allowed of 84 seconds. The first of the related distances troubled several competitors with the majority of fences at maximum height, including a 1.60m plank, which was gappy, light and with no ground line.
There were thrills and spills aplenty throughout the class, with 14 riders going clear throughout. Kimberly Prince and RMF Bella Baloubet had a double refusal at the water tray, meaning that Miami Glory were eliminated, with teammate Scott Brash’s score not counting despite his phenomenal clear with Hello Annie. Home team fans were left disappointed as Shanghai Swans’ Daniel Deusser and the large-striding Clintop had the final fence down despite flying round in masterful style. Team mate Roger-Yves Bost rode a flying clear with Pegase du Murier, winning the class individually as the fans waved their burgundy and green Shanghai Swans flags. But it was not enough for the home team who finished in 10th overall.
Nicola Philippaerts, riding the popular H&M Harley v. Bisschop, also collected an unusual number of faults. The stunning dapple grey stopped in the second part of the double after crashing through the water tray. Another refusal from teammate Lauren Hough and Cornet 39 also meant the team collected a total of 40 faults overall, dropping them down the order and out of contention. Laura Kraut looked strong for the Rome Gladiators, however Zeremonie dropped her legs in the final oxer, kicking back to knock the pole and racking up points for the team total.
Jan Tops, Co-Founder Global Champions League; "It was really exciting today and the more we run through the year the more exciting it will be. It is now very close (GCL ranking) with London Knights only 6 points behind Valkenswaard United and with St Tropez Pirates and Hamburg Diamonds and now Paris Panthers move up again. We are very fortunate to have a brand like BMW for a long-term contract in Shanghai. It is very good to be associated with and also for BMW it is a perfect fit. It is great to have Shanghai in our circuit."
LGCT Round Up
A formidable 8 of the world’s top 10 riders will be heading to Shanghai, China, for the third leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League season, where an impressive €1,250,000 of prize money will be on offer over the weekend.
Revolutionary in the sport, the LGCT of Shanghai is in its fourth year running, breaking records by being one of the first major equestrian events in the heart of China, and bringing top sport to new audiences. Now highly respected as one of the most prolific social and sporting events on the calendar, the third leg of the 15-stop Championship will welcome the world’s best horses and riders as they battle it out for the prestigious top spot in their season long campaign for the coveted LGCT Champion of Champions title.
World Number 2 Kent Farrington (USA), will head to China following a successful weekend in Miami Beach where the top American rider took a home win in front of a passionate, packed-out crowd. Looking to be on phenomenal form, he’ll be fending off the likes of Daniel Deusser (GER), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Kevin Staut (FRA) and Scott Brash (GBR) - a rider who is extremely popular with the Chinese fans. Another local favourite, multiple Olympian and living legend Ludger Beerbaum (GER) will also return to the LGCT Shanghai, where he’ll be on target to battle it out against the world’s best for the €500,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai.
Sommergarten at the Funkturm of Berlin was revealed as a new stunning backdrop to the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League of Berlin. The powerhouse City joins the glittering line-up of world class destinations on the 2017 calendar, and the event – Global Jumping Berlin - will celebrate its debut on the world's premier show jumping circuit from the 28th - 30th July.
As the 15-event Championship gallops past its midway point, this magnificent new destination will play host to Round 11 and with a confirmed prize purse of over 1 million Euros on offer over the course of the weekend, plus the world's top athletes in action every day, there is sure to be high octane action and thrilling top sport on display.
"As one of the most important capital cities in the world, we believe Berlin will be a fantastic new location for our international series," said Jan Tops, President and Founder of the Longines Global Champions Tour and Co-Founder of the Global Champions League. "Germany is a hugely enthusiastic horse nation and we are looking forward to welcoming an expert and enthusiastic audience to an event which is attended by the best athletes in the world. We are also looking forward to again working with Volker Wulff and EN GARDE, and we are confident that with this event we will be able to build a tradition in this dynamic and exciting city in the coming years."
LGCT Hots Up In Miami
It was another dream come true at the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami Beach as Jérôme Guery (BEL) and Grand Cru van de Rozenberg galloped to a gallant victory on the beach in a high drama Grand Prix. Set against the backdrop of the breath-taking turquoise ocean, the world’s best wowed the crowds in a stunning display of top sport and entertainment. Speaking about the significance of today’s result Jerome said: “The Global is the biggest show in the world, the best riders in the world, the best riders are here and to have a victory here - every rider wants to win one time in his life a victory like today.”
From the glistening grass of Mexico City to the shimmering sands of Miami Beach, the LGCT Grand Prix action never ceases to challenge the best riders and horses in the world. Having qualified from the Global Champions League earlier in the day, twenty-five top riders attempted the tough track set by Italy’s skilled course designer Uliano Vezzani. As fans packed the grandstand and lined the edge of the arena, the likes of Lauren Hough (USA), Ben Maher (GBR), Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and 2015 LGCT Miami Beach winner Scott Brash (GBR) took centre stage for what turned out to be a high-octane and high-drama Grand Prix.
The tough first round saw top riders fail to make it through, with poles rolling and the expectant crowd gasping as riders picked up faults all over the course. The local fans’ hopes were dashed when home hero Kent Farrington (USA) retired Creedance, after the combination picked up an unusual 12 faults. Belgian star Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) was first to go clear after a flawless round with his young nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion Chilli Willi, with the popular rider clearly delighted with their performance. Ranking leader Martin Fuchs (SUI) and recent success story Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) both left the arena with faults. With less than a sixth of the class returning for the jump-off, the fastest four fault rides earned the fifth through tenth spots in the final classification.
Last to go proved best, as Jérôme Guery and Grand Cru van de Rozenberg knew exactly what they had to do to take the win. Picking up a strong pace from start, the pair didn’t slow for a second around the fast-paced twisting track. Keeping the fans on the edge of their seats until their last stride through the timers, they stopped the clock in 37.39s, an amazing half a second faster than Alberto, and to the roar of the crowd who leapt to their feet in appreciation.
"My horse today was amazing", added Jerome, "he jumped the qualification clear and the Grand Prix was clear in the first round. I have a little bit of an advantage in the jump off as I was the last to go. I saw the other riders had three clear, and they were fast but not crazy fast. I tried to go a little bit faster - my horse listened to me perfectly and it was an amazing day for me today. Fast is fast!"
In an incredible turn of events, London Knights' Kent Farrington and teammate Ben Maher overtook leading team Valkenswaard United in a dramatic upset in the Global Champions League Final.
After only two events, the fight for the coveted title is already super competitive and tactical with team riders and trainers strategising to get an early advantage in the championship. Talking about the GCL and the new format, top American rider and World No2 Kent said: “I think it’s really exciting what Jan is doing for the sport - he’s started the Global Champions Tour  years ago, and it’s been evolving ever since. I think the team competition is the latest evolution of his vision for big sport. We can already see big changes from last year - I’m really excited to be a part of it and it’s a great way to showcase our sport here in Miami Beach.”
The atmosphere was electric, with spectators pumped up to watch the world's best in action just inches from the turqoise Atlantic Ocean. Easter holidaymakers, new to the sport, were delighted to see show jumping for the first time on such a spectacular stage with the world’s top equine athletes delivering thrilling competition. Hundreds of guests enjoyed world class hospitality in the beautiful VIP Lounge which stretches the length of the arena and offered breathtaking views across to the Atlantic Ocean. Global business heavyweights joined leading socialites for a stunning afternoon of top-level sport in a unique destination.
Valkenswaard United looked set to continue their Championship reign as they headed to the final at Miami Beach in pole position following Thursday's Round 1. Maintaining their flawless score of zero faults, teammate Alberto Zorzi put them in a strong position to take the gold as they did in Mexico City last week. But, as the last rider to compete over a challenging course, Bertram Allen knocked down two fences along the track, scoring a unusual 8 faults and dropping the team to a second place finish.
The formidable London Knights jumped to the top spot on the podium, earning gold after a masterful display from the team riders. In Round One Kent Farrington dropped one rail and his teammate Ben Maher was clear, which meant they entered into the final today with just 4 faults. Switching places today, Ben was the one who picked up a 4 fault score, causing the team to teeter with the potential for a podium spot. Coming in close to last and with all the pressure on his shoulders, Kent flew around the course with his feisty chestnut horse Creedance - with the pair the speediest ride of the day and clear for the class win, as well as elevating the London Knights to the GCL Final Miami Beach top podium spot.
Global Champions Tour Round Up
Valkenswaard United Flawless In Miami Heat
Valkenswaard United made their Championship title intentions clear with another incredible display of teamwork and skill in the first round of the Global Champions League of Miami Beach. Bertram Allen and Alberto Zorzi put in a perfect performance to ensure their team would be on pole heading into Saturday’s final, breaking away from the rest of the field as the only combination to jump double clear.
Jane Richard Philips - who also competes for the Cannes Stars - won the overall class individually after a high octane jump off, and Harrie Smolders lit up the arena in the first CSI5* class of the day as the world's best tested out the Miami Beach sands for the first time this weekend.
Picking up on the Miami vibe, there was a cool social scene as hundreds of VIP guests enjoyed ringside views of top sporting action and a jaw-dropping view across the sand arena to the turquoise ocean. The interior of the chic VIP Hospitality Lounge was enhanced by stunning displays from Plant The Future reinforcing the tropical feel of the Florida destination.
Season Opener In Mexico City
The 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour season kicked off with a phenomenal victory in Mexico City for the young Swiss star, Martin Fuchs, and his formidable stallion Chaplin – for whom this was his first CSI5* outdoor Grand Prix. The curtain went up on the hotly-anticipated championship series and the action was electrifying with fans on the edge of their seats as world class sport played out.
A delighted Martin hailed his Grand Prix victory as “amazing” and said: “My horse Chaplin gave his heart for me and I’m very happy.”
The 25-year-old rider demonstrated nerves of steel as he powered to a stunning win - his first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix triumph - in Mexico City giving him a great advantage at the top of the new ranking for 2017. It was a successful weekend for the young star, with the rider collecting over €175,000 through the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League competitions.
He revealed he had talked tactics with his GCL Chantilly Pegasus team mate Nicola Phillippaerts before the jump off and his friend Max Kuhner. Fuchs said: “Niels is one of the fastest in the world with Gancia but my horse is also super fast and I took all the risks.”
The passionate Mexican crowd were bathed in glorious sunshine as they enjoyed a thrilling afternoon of top class show jumping action which saw faults spread around the course and no one area causing trouble.
Full credit must go to Martin Fuchs (SUI) who rode with a maturity beyond his years to finish on top of the podium in this highly competitive class. The LGCT now looks to Miami Beach, one of the most breath-taking destinations in the world, as the world's best descend on the stunning American shoreline for round two of the Championship.
Top Five Results LGCT Grand Prix of Mexico City
1. Martin Fuchs // Chaplin
2. Niels Bruynseels // Gancia de Muze
3. Maikel van der Vleuten // VDL Groep Arera C
4. Lorenzo de Luca // Armitages Boy
5. Bertram Allen // Hector van d'Abdijhoeve
Big Star & Nick Skelton CBE To Retire At Windsor
It was announced this morning, 5th April, that both Nick Skelton CBE and his double Olympic Gold Medallist partner Big Star are to hang up their jumping boots for good, after a long and an illustrious career.
Royal Windsor Horse Show is honoured to host the official retirement of the 2016 Olympic Individual Gold Medallist, on Sunday 14 May 2017.
Nick has been a true legend of the sport with a show jumping career that has spanned four decades and includes seven Olympic Games and 20 championship medals. Since his first international championship in 1973, Skelton has consistently remained at the top of his game with the ultimate highlight being his most recent success at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where he secured an Individual Gold Medal with his stallion Big Star.
An inspiration to many, Nick has also been credited with one of the greatest comebacks of all time after a fall in 2000 left him with serious injuries, including a broken neck, and forced him into early retirement. However he defied the odds to recover and made a courageous decision to start competing again. Skelton’s story captured the hearts of those who witnessed his victory at the Olympics, with the tear-jerking gold medal podium moment voted one of the highlights of the Games. The British public showed their support and respect for Skelton’s achievement by voting for him to take third place in the 2016 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Big Star, owned by Gary & Beverley Widdowson, has been with Nick for the duration of his career, since he was bought as a five-year-old. Big Star has helped Skelton to win two Olympic Gold Medals, numerous major Grand Prix titles and consistently delivered clear rounds for Great Britain in Nations Cup competitions. The fourteen-year-old stallion will be officially retired on the Sunday of Royal Windsor Horse Show in the Castle Arena in front of HM The Queen.
Royal Windsor Horse Show, Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward spoke of the decision; “Nick Skelton is not only a legend of equestrian sport but of the whole sporting world. What he has achieved in his career is remarkable and we are honoured he has chosen Royal Windsor Horse Show as the place to officially retire along with Big Star.
We are delighted that our ticket holders will have the opportunity to be there for this special occasion and we will make sure that both Nick Skelton and Big Star get the send-off they truly deserve.”
Nick has said for a long time that when the day came to retire Big Star, he would retire with him. We are all incredibly sad so to see this day come but wish the golden boys the very best of retirement.
GCT To Increase From 12 to 18 Teams For 2017
A total of 18 teams will be on the starting grid for the 2017 Global Champions League season as the world's top riders gear up for 15 events packed with top sport. Set against the backdrop of the Tops International Arena in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, Jan Tops (President and Co-Owner Longines Global Champions Tour and Co-Founder, Global Champions League), Frank McCourt (Co-Owner, Longines Global Champions Tour and Co-Founder, Global Champions League) welcomed media to an open forum to discuss the recent FEI approval for the GCL Series, the growth of show jumping and opportunities for riders. The pair were joined by FEI President Ingmar De Vos, who was on hand to answer media questions from the FEI perspective.
Opening the forum, Jan Tops said: “Last year we started with 12 teams for the GCL, and it is our goal to be innovative also for the riders. We bring different countries together, a bigger platform globally - not only nationally concentrated. We have the vision to explore our sport for bigger fans and bigger audiences - this is our big drive.”
With the announcement that 18 teams would now take part in the 2017 season Championship, he continued: “the interest from team owners has increased - we went from 12 teams to 18 teams this year, which I think is fantastic and gives the opportunity for many riders to compete."
Talking about the new GCL format, as approved by the FEI, Jan spoke of the fierce rivalry and team tactics combining with top sport: “every leg will be like a Championship. We have the best and it’s been chosen by the team managers that only two riders have to compete, which also makes it low stress on the horses and riders. The horses won’t be over-jumped. We found a good working relation this year for the horses.”
"You can change your horse from the first day to the second day. You can change the rider. We have three riders normally on the event, you only need to use two so you can have one different rider if you want to as well. It’s more exciting, like a football team. You have more vibrance. We have a big story to tell to our audience - it can be totally different from one day to another.”
With the sport going through a period of growth with around 1,500 jumping events in the calendar, FEI President Ingmar De Vos spoke of further growth ahead for the sport globally: “I am confident if all of us work together, National Federations, organisers, athletes and owners we will be able to make it much stronger than today.”
With GCL adding a new dimension to team competition and innovating the way in which fans are able to follow and support the top athletes around the world, GCL spoke of plans to add new features to inform and entertain new and existing fans with improved production and digital and social media innovation to grow audiences around the world. Frank further expanded during the open forum on the innovation saying: “Technology is evolving and digital media is basically taking over the means and methods of communicating. It is part of the evolution of the sport in a world that is changing very rapidly.”
And with the growth of the sport there are bigger opportunities for all, with new investors, higher prize money and greater return on investment for all stakeholders involved. Ingmar De Vos also pointed out that sponsored teams are "not new” and have existed for many years.
As the LGCT and GCL look to the 2017 15-event season, set against some of the most iconic and unique destinations in the world, including Miami Beach, London, Berlin, Rome, Shanghai, Paris and Doha, the scene for an enthralling Championship battle has been set.
World's Best Gather In Palm Beach For Rolex Grand Prix
Sell-out crowds, are set to congregate on the 25th March, for the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), under the bright lights of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre to watch the world’s leading riders battle it out for the highlight of the 12-week competition and the most intensely contested event of the festival: the 5* Rolex Grand Prix.
The three-month spectacle in horse sport attracts many of show jumping’s elite riders, who are seeking winter sun and unprecedented outdoor equine facilities, as the first quarter of the European show jumping circuit continues indoors. A total of 6,000 horses and 2,000 riders from across 30 countries base themselves in Palm Beach from January until April, to educate their younger rides and to prepare their top horses for the first Rolex Grand Prix of the year at WEF.
Kent Farrington commented on the unique 12-week competition, “For me, this is a combination of spring training for my younger horses and an opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best at 5* Grand Prix level. That is why WEF is unique.”
The managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, Mark Bellissimo wanted to produce an event which “provides the best equestrian show experience in the industry from the perspective of the quality of competition, the facility and the general lifestyle experience. These elements would not be possible without the support of global partners such as Rolex.”
Together with their top horses, top riders are scheduled to compete in the 11th week of the WEF at the highlight of the competition, the 5* Rolex Grand Prix.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, arguably Germany’s greatest show jumper of all time, has one of the finest equestrian resumes in history and will be looking to finish what has started as a successful season at the WEF, with the title prize.
Canadian born but now Florida-based, Eric Lamaze will be looking to take on the world’s leading horse and rider combinations aboard Houston and start the year as he finished in 2016, with a win at Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva.
Perfectly located for the Winter Equestrian Festival, Kent Farrington, who lives in Wellington, will be looking to capitalize on his proximity to the venue and challenge for the title, riding Gazelle.
Rodrigo Pessoa, a legend in the show jumping world and regarded as one of the most naturally gifted horseman is ready to contend for the Rolex Grand Prix together with his gelding Ferro Chin VH Lindenhof.
The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam is also set to challenge with the brilliant SFN Zenith N.O.P.
Rolex Celebrates 60th Equestrian Anniversary At Brabant
The eyes of the equestrian world will focus on the medieval Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch from this Thursday for four days of world-class equestrian sport, culminating with the Rolex Grand Prix on 12 March. The world's highest-ranking show jumpers will take centre stage, featuring precision, determination and an inspiring synergy between horse & rider.
This year 2017 also marks the 60th anniversary of Rolex’s support of equestrianism. In 1957 the British rider Pat Smythe became Rolex’s first equestrian Testimonee, and this extraordinary athlete laid the foundations for the brand’s 60-year association with the world’s finest competitions and riders - a true testament to Rolex’s longevity and dedication to the sport.
NEW ROLEX TESTIMONEE: DUTCH HERO JEROEN DUBBELDAM
Having been welcomed into the Rolex family in July 2016, the most successful Dutch rider of his generation, Jeroen Dubbeldam will compete at Indoor Brabant, his home show, as a Rolex Testimonee for the first time.
Jeroen is only the second show jumper in history to win the individual Olympic, World and European titles and was part of the gold medal winning Dutch team at the World Championships in 2006 and 2014. Having won two of the most prestigious Grand Prix’s in the world, CHIO Aachen and CSIO Spruce Meadows, he will be eager to add the Rolex Grand Prix at Indoor Brabant to his list of achievements.
“Indoor Brabant is always a highlight of my competition year, and jumping in front of my home fans creates an incredible atmosphere. It gives me an added incentive to win the Rolex Grand Prix to pay them back for all the support they have given me over the years”, Jeroen said.
With 13 of the world’s top 20 riders competing at Indoor Brabant, the competition will be intense, requiring perfect unison from horse and rider in order to claim the ultimate prize and cement their place in history.
ROLEX’S EQUESTRIAN TESTIMONEES AT ‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH
Indoor Brabant’s exclusive place on the equestrian circuit is a result of its combination of magnificent show jumping as well as elite dressage, creating an indoor show unrivalled in equine sport.
A number of Rolex’s Testimonees are set to return to contest for the Rolex Grand Prix this year, including Kevin Staut, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam, and Britain’s Scott Brash, who is still the only rider in history to achieve the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Brash looking to take another jump toward a 2nd Rolex Gram Slam in Geneva
The 2016 global equestrian season comes to a close in scintillating fashion with the third equestrian Major of the year hosted by CHI Geneva.
The 56th edition of this prestigious show takes place from 8-11 December 2016 in Rolex headquarter’s pristine home city of Geneva. The Swiss indoor show has been voted the world’s best show jumping event for the 8th time by many of equestrian’s greatest riders and Rolex is proud to have been the presenting partner since 1996.
As the only one of the three Majors that comprise the Rolex Grand Slam to be hosted indoors, CHI Geneva is unique in its setting and atmosphere, creating an entirely fresh challenge for riders and horses alike.
ROLEX GRAND PRIX
CHI Geneva builds to a crescendo on Sunday 11 December with the Rolex Grand Prix, one of the three Majors that together form equestrian sport’s most sought-after award, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
As one of the most renowned competitions in the show jumping season, winning the Rolex Grand Prix at the Palexpo stadium in Geneva will require supreme courage and immaculate timing. With an imposing course set to defy the world’s foremost riders, an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd create a cacophony of noise to complete an atmosphere unparalleled in equestrian sport.
SCOTT BRASH EYEING HISTORY
To date Scott Brash is the only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s greatest prize. By winning the three equestrian Majors in succession in 2015, a feat even more impressive considering it was achieved on the same horse, Brash secured his place in equestrian sport’s illustrious hall of fame.
After winning the 2016 CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, in Spruce Meadows, Brash arrives to Geneva as the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam, once again in a position to take home the ultimate prize. He will need to demonstrate passion, determination and exceptional performance to continue his quest towards a second Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping title.
“To win the three equestrian Majors back to back, and accomplish a second Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping title, would be incredible. It’s what every rider wants to be a part of. I am delighted to be back on track and am looking forward to attempting to take the next chapter in this extraordinary challenge.”
Having triumphed in 2014 aboard Hello Sanctos, Brash knows exactly what is required to win CHI Geneva, putting him in an excellent position to compete against his fellow equestrian elite.
Global Stars Set To Dazzle At Equestrian.com Liverpool International
Britain's leading female rider Laura Renwick will also be among the contenders, while the famous Whittaker family are out in force, spearheaded by Michael and John off the back of their Olympia return in Rio this summer. The world renowned show jumping family heading to Liverpool also features two of the rising Whitaker stars, with in-form Joe and Jack, winner of the individual gold medal at this year's European Pony Championships.
Irish riders enjoyed success at the inaugural Liverpool show 11 months ago, and they are again out in force, led by reigning Liverpool Grand Prix champion Billy Twomey. Joining him are Rio Olympics combination Greg Broderick and MHS Going Global, former world champion Dermott Lennon, Aachen Grand Prix winner Denis Lynch, plus the ever-popular Shane Breen and consistent Anthony Condon.
Leading the continental challenge will be Germany's three-time World Cup finalist Philipp Weishaupt and two top Italian riders - Emanuele Gaudiano and Piergiorgio Bucci - who have already proved to be Liverpool audience favourites with their thrilling all-action styles that saw them feature on the first year roll of honour.
Show tickets start at just £11.50, with family tickets and season tickets available. The booking line number is 08448 000400, or CLICK. For groups of 15 people and more, a 20 per cent discount on adult prices only for silver and bronze areas can be obtained. The booking line for this is 08445 617672.
Victory for home nation at the Rolex Grand Prix, CHIO Aachen
Home favourite Philipp Weishaupt, riding LB Convall thrilled the capacity 40,000 crowd to win the Rolex Grand Prix on the final day of the world famous CHIO Aachen, the highlight of the World Equestrian Festival, and the first equestrian Major of the year. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping holder Scott Brash, riding Ursula XII took second place and Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard Carlo 273 was third.
Under an overcast sky and humid conditions, 40 riders from 13 nations qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix, and were faced with a typically challenging course set by designer Frank Rothenberger. Rightly considered by both spectators and riders as the toughest Grand Prix in the world, the first round showed the sport of show jumping at its most challenging. Reiterating the importance of the clock, only 13 riders completed their first round within the time allowed, but incurred jumping penalties. Three combinations jumped but picked up penalties against the clock. Separated by time faults, the first rider into the ring Philipp Weishaupt accumulated two, behind Gerco Schröder and Martin Fuchs with one.
The second round seemed like an entirely different competition with the seventeen starters posting eleven clear rounds including a scintillating performance from Rolex Testimonee Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum riding Fibonacci 17, who also jumped double-clear during the Nations Cup competition earlier in the week, and Aachen favourite Marcus Ehning on board Pret a Tout, who were willed over every fence by the patriotic crowd.
But it was Weishaupt who turned up the pressure, with a fault-free second round leaving him in the driving seat. The atmosphere was electric as the crowds waited for the last two riders, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding Clooney 51 and Gerco Schröder riding Glock’s Cognac Champblanc N.O.P. to enter the ring. But sport can be cruel, and with Fuchs’ horse refusing the final fence, and Schröder incurring four faults, Philipp Weishaupt and LB Convall were crowned the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix.
Commenting on his victory, Weishaupt said, “I was first to go so did not have too many expectations. When I walked it I knew it was hard to jump a clear round, but Convall jumped amazingly in both the first and second round. I have been riding in the Grand Prix here at Aachen for the last ten or twelve years and that was the toughest course I have ever jumped.”
He continued by saying, “I just did my thing and it is unbelievable. I just can’t believe it.”
ROLEX GRAND PRIX 2016 RESULTS
1. Philipp Weishaupt (GER), riding LB Convall
2. Scott Brash (GBR), riding Ursula XII
3. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), riding Carlo 273
4. Marcus Ehning (GER), riding Pret A Tout
5. Tiffany Foster (CAN), riding Tripple X III
6. McLain Ward (USA), riding HH Azur
7. Elizabeth Madden (USA), riding Cortes ‘C’
8. Daniel Deusser (GER), riding Equita van’t Zorgvilet
9. Judy-Ann Melchior (BEL), riding As Cold as Ice Z
10. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), riding Fibonacci 17