On Friday 21 December 2018, Olympia is set to host the highly anticipated Markel Champions Challenge, which this year will take the form of a ‘Battle of the Sexes’, as the Girls take on the Boys in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
The Markel Champions Challenge will see the jockeys switch disciplines for one night only, as they compete in a relay Show Jumping competition. This is the fourth year of the Markel Champions Challenge at Olympia and it has quickly become a highlight of the week, featuring as part of Olympia’s ‘Race Night’.
Sir Anthony ‘AP’ McCoy, who is returning to Olympia this year, as captain of the Boys’ team, made up of a group of elite jockeys hoping to be crowned champions. Pitched against “McCoy’s Boys” will be the racing world’s “Girl Power” – a team of leading female jockeys captained by Bridget Andrews, who recorded her first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2018. With a long list of achievements under their belts, both captains have the credentials to lead their teams and claim the Markel Champions Challenge title. An undisputed racing legend, McCoy has been enjoying his retirement but will retake the reins at Olympia once again.
McCoy’s team – hand-selected in a bid to continue his Olympia winning streak – comprises some of racing’s top names, including current Champion Jump Jockey, Richard ‘Dickie’ Johnson, who has partnered at least 100 winners in each of his campaigns since 1997. Johnson will be joined by fellow jump jockey, Harry Skelton, son of Show Jumping Olympic gold medallist, Nick Skelton. No doubt Skelton will be learning a thing or two from his father ahead of Olympia.
Adding further scope to “McCoy’s Boys” will be Jim Crowley, who rode over 100 winners on the National Hunt circuit before turning his hand to flat racing, brilliantly winning the Flat Jockeys’ Championship in 2016. Crowley, whose daughter, Alice, has followed in his footsteps to ride in the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia, will bring his combination of jump and flat racing experience to the Grand Hall. Together with three-time Champion Jockey, Ryan Moore, the formidable “McCoy’s Boys” will no doubt give Bridget and her girls a real run for their money.
McCoy, who is competing at Olympia for the third year, said: “The Markel Champions Challenge is such a crowd pleaser and we all love it. I thought I would ‘retire’ after last year’s win but my kids had other ideas so I’ll be back to beat the Girls and claim another win.”
Juliet Redfern, Managing Director of Markel’s Equine and Livestock division, commented: “Markel is delighted to be continuing its support of this fabulous event, which gets more competitive every year. Having a “Girls v Boys” theme this year puts a new twist on things, and I’ll of course be rooting for the girls! Combining such a popular event in support of a thoroughly worthwhile charity in the Injured Jockey’s Fund – it doesn’t get any better.”
Lisa Hancock, CEO of the Injured Jockeys Fund, said: “Olympia is becoming one of the highlights of the jockeys’ year, as they have so much fun. We can’t thank Markel enough for its continued support of the work we do, and we’re looking forward to being part of ‘Race Night’ again.”
‘Race Night’ at Olympia, the UK’s largest indoor Show, will involve an evening of race-themed entertainment. With a full line-up still to be announced, spectators can expect appearances from the legendary Bob Champion, whose charity, The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, is supported by the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National, in which crowds can cheer on the young jockeys and their Shetlands over a mini Grand National course.
More information about Olympia, The London International Horse Show, and details on how to secure your place at one of the equestrian performances of the year can be found online at www.olympiahorseshow.com