Tag Archive: Olympia

  1. Michael Whitaker takes the Olympia Grand Prix amid controversy

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    Bertram Allen looks set to appeal against the controversial decision that cost him victory in the London International Horse Show’s Olympia Grand Prix.

    Irish star Allen romped to victory, clocking a remarkable time of 30.45 seconds on Quiet Easy to leave 14 jump-off rivals trailing in his wake.

    Confusion then initially reigned in the collecting ring arena, the prize presentation was delayed, and then it emerged that Allen had been disqualified after blood was spotted on one of the horse’s flanks.

    The rider and the horse’s connections were left visibly stunned as runner-up Michael Whitaker and Viking were promoted to top spot, collecting an £18,300 first prize, with German pair Ludger Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning finishing second and third.

    All horses are checked by the steward after they have jumped, with the steward then alerting the ground jury if he felt there might be a problem.

    “I am utterly devastated, just speechless,” Allen told www.horseandhound.co.uk.

    “I have a fantastic relationship with all of my horses, and their welfare is paramount.

    “My foot must have slipped against Quiet Easy’s side as I was riding against the clock. He’s a sensitive horse and it was just a tiny nick.”

    The show’s final day proved to be one of unexpected drama, with Norway’s Victoria Gulliksen earlier being disqualified from the International Six Bar competition.

    Gulliksen had tied for victory with Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, but Olympia later said that the 23-year-old should not have entered the competition. She had an invitation only for Thursday’s Alltech Puissance at Olympia.
    The event’s ground jury spotted the error, but it was too late to take action. Gulliksen was subsequently disqualified under the competition rules.

    The Holly Speed Stakes, meanwhile, went to Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer following a thrilling class when just 60 hundredths of a second separated the top four finishers.

    Image: Michael Whitaker by Jason Wharam via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

  2. Eduardo Alvarez Aznar wins the Olympia Six Bar

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    A capacity Monday afternoon crowd at Olympia’s London International Horse Show enjoyed a feast of showjumping that combined exhilarating speed and precision riding, although an administrative mistake meant the day ended on a disappointing note for Norwegian rider Victoria Gulliksen.

    The International Six Bar competition is always a favourite with the audience, and they were treated to a thrilling three-way fight to the finish between Spaniard Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, Norwegian Victoria Gulliksen and British star Michael Whitaker.

    The class sees riders tackling a line of vertical poles, with the last fence being raised to increase degree of difficulty.

    And by the time it came to a final fourth jump round — the maximum allowed — the remaining trio were left facing an enormous last obstacle of 1.95 metres (6ft 5in).

    Alvarez Aznar, riding Chatman, made the course look effortless, but it was not the same for Whitaker, who had a refusal at the last with Right Now Semilly, leaving 23-year-old Gulliksen needing a clear on Grand Balou to share the £4,000 top prize.

    She rode brilliantly to ensure a share of the spoils, much to the delight of her watching father and fellow international rider Geir Gulliksen. However, it later emerged that Gulliksen should not have entered the competition, as she only had an invitation for Thursday’s Alltech Puissance. As a result, the 23-year-old was disqualified, with Alvarez Aznar taking the prize.

    “Sadly, there was a mistake on my part, as I genuinely thought my National Federation had received permission for me to enter the Six Bar,” said Gulliksen.

    Ground jury president Jon Doney added: “Unfortunately, under the rules, there is no question that Victoria Gulliksen has had to be disqualified from the Six Bar competition. “We are obviously very disappointed for Victoria and the genuine mistake which led to the disqualification, and look forward to her returning another year.”

    Earlier, Swiss star Pius Schwizer edged a pulsating Holly Speed Stakes that saw the first four finishers separated by just 60 hundredths of a second.

    Holland’s Maikel van der Vleuten was the long-time leader on Kisby in a time of 52.76 seconds, but London 2012 Olympic-bronze medallist Cian O’Connor then clipped eight hundredths of a second off his time with Coco II.

    That looked to be enough for an Irish victory, but former world-number-one Schwizer was in masterful form, clocking 52.34 seconds, which proved too hot a pace, despite the best efforts of last-to-go Ben Maher, riding Quabble, who finished in 52.94 seconds for fourth place.

  3. John Whitaker takes the H&M Ivy Stakes at Olympia

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    John Whitaker offered a fascinating insight into the secret of his longevity after winning the H&M Ivy Stakes at Olympia’s London International Horse Show.

    The five-time Olympian triumphed with 10-year-old mare Ornellaia, a horse that he has high hopes for in the Rio Olympics year.

    They clocked a time of 36.32 seconds, which edged out reigning Olympic individual champion Steve Guerdat, riding Bianca. Holland’s Maikel van der Vleuten, meanwhile, was third aboard Cupido V.

    “It’s nice to win at Olympia in front of your home crowd. I have had a great season, and it means a lot to win here,” Whitaker said.

    “I have been around a long time. It has always been a good show for me, and I think it brings the best out of me.

    “All the best riders in the world are here, so it really means something to beat them.

    “The courses all week have been tough, but the standard is so high. You expect seven or eight clears, and you get 11 or 12.

    “It’s the name of the game, and you have to keep up with those standards.

    “It is so professional now. I am up every morning at half past six, schooling horses.

    “You try to be really professional. When you are competing against the best riders in the world, it rubs off on each other and you keep upping your game.”

    Image: John Whitaker by The Rambling Man, CC BY-SA 3.0

  4. William Whitaker bags the Olympia Christmas Tree Stakes

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    William Whitaker completed a strong fifth day for British riders at the London International Horse Show by winning the Christmas Tree Stakes.

    After earlier successes for Ben Maher and 21-year-old Chloe Winchester, Whitaker showed his class to land the keenly fought jump-off class that saw 12 combinations progress from round one.

    Whitaker, riding Balibu, clocked a time of 31.89 seconds, which proved enough for top spot, with less than a second separating the top four finishers.

    Finland’s Anna-Julia Kontio was second aboard Fardon on 32.08, with John Whitaker and the highly-rated mare Ornellaia third, just ahead of Italian Emanuele Gaudiano, riding Caspar.

    Meanwhile, London 2012 gold medallist Maher won the Christmas Masters and its £10,500 prize with his richly-promising newcomer Boomerang.

    Olympia’s current seven leading riders are eligible for the class, with jumping taking place over a maximum of five rounds. Competitors nominate one fence to be raised in height each time they jump, and every clear round sees more money added to the prize fund, but a fence down means elimination.

    German star Marcus Ehning went out early, and at one stage it looked asa though British riders would totally dominate, but round four claimed Laura Renwick, William Funnell and Robert Whitaker, leaving Maher, Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and Dutch challenger Jur Vrieling in contention.

    Maher again went clear in the fifth round jump-off, but Schwizer and Vrieling each had one fence down.

    “There is an enormous amount of tactics, and I think that’s a way that the sport could develop, with pit-stop talks for strategy,” Maher said. “They were probably the biggest jumps we will see this week, and the crowd loves it.”

    Image: William Whitaker riding Malibu in the Christmas Tree Stakes at Olympia, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  5. Chloe Winchester is Olympia’s under-23 champion

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    Chloe Winchester confirmed her status as one of British showjumping’s rising stars when she was crowned national under-23 champion at the London International Horse Show.

    Suffolk-based Winchester added the prestigious Dodson & Horrell title to her Queen Elizabeth II Cup triumph at Hickstead in June, with both success achieved on Avoca Valkyrie.

    Winchester described Avoca Valkyrie as her “horse of a lifetime,” and a truly outstanding combination once again delivered the goods under pressure.

    Abbe Burchmore-Eames, who was first into the arena and set the standard with a beautiful clear round, finished second on Wilandri E.

    Jessica Mendoza, winner of Friday night’s Longines Christmas Cracker with Spirit T, was on speedy form again, riding Wan Architect, but, with the class at her mercy, hit the final planks in the jump-off and dropped to third place. “I guess I used up all my luck last night,” she said.

    Six riders jumped clear — Millie Allen (Balou Star), George Whitaker (Gipsy Boy) and last year’s winner, Kerry Brennan (Wellington M) were the other three — and they joined the fastest four-faulters in a 10-horse jump-off.

    Burchmore-Eames was the first to go clear, in 39.13 seconds, but she was overtaken by Winchester on 33.89, and Mendoza went even quicker, but one fence down ended her hopes.

    “I am over the moon,” Winchester said. “As I galloped down to the last fence, I thought that if got that right, I had a shot at winning. It’s amazing to ride here at Olympia — you just want to do it again and again.

    “The horse is a bit of a diva, but in four years she has taken me from 1.30m to Nations Cups and has been amazing.”

    Burchmore-Eames was also thrilled, adding: “It’s a dream come true. All I wanted was a clear round and a rosette, so it’s great to be in the prize-giving, It has been one of my best years, but this is the icing on the cake.”

    Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher continued his recent run of form by emerging victorious in Dhelley Ashman International Ltd, K M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Father Christmas Stakes on Callisto.

    The competition — run as an accumulator in which points are accrued for each fence jumped cleanly, and double points gained or lost at an optional final joker fence — was led for a long time by Britain’s John Whitaker (Lord of Arabia), ahead of his younger brother Michael (Right Now Semilly), but they had to settle for second and third, respectively.

    “Watching John’s round was a big advantage for me because I was able to create a good plan,” Dreher said. “It was a fast course, with short turns, and I had to go for it. Luckily, my horse is very careful.”

    Image: Chloe Winchester rides Avoca Valkyrie in the Dodson & Horrell under-23 Championship at Olympia, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  6. Jessica Mendoza wins the Olympia Christmas Cracker

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    Jessica Mendoza achieved one of her career aims by winning a senior international class at Olympia as she lit up the London International Horse Show.

    Riding her 2015 European Championships horse and Rio Olympics hopeful Spirit T, 19-year-old British star Mendoza proved unstoppable in the Longines Christmas Cracker.

    Although 14 combinations made the jump-off, Mendoza and Switzerland’s former world number one Pius Schwizer proved a class apart, before Mendoza edged home in a time of 31.43 seconds, 48 hundredths of a second in front of Schwzier and PSG Fortune.

    Essex-based Laura Renwick was third on Bintang II, clocking 33.09 seconds, with France’s former European individual champion Kevin Staut fourth aboard Qurack de Falaise.

    Mendoza has already helped the Great Britain team secure qualification for Rio and secure runners-up spot at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona this year, but her first Olympia international win will always rank highly on her list of career achievements.

    “I have always said that I wanted to have an international win at Olympia,” Mendoza said. “This is my first time doing the international classes here. I am very pleased.”

    Mendoza pulled off a stunning turn early in her jump-off round that saved considerable time, and she added: “Everyone else was so quick, and that was the only place on the jump-off course that you could beat them on time.

    “I just had to risk it. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but when I took off, I knew I was okay.”

    Mendoza was also among the challengers in the Christmas Speed Stakes, but she had to be content with fourth spot on Sam de Bacon.

    Holland’s Jur Vrieling, riding Arezzo VDL, took the class in a time of 56.78 seconds, just eight hundredths faster than in-form Frenchman Simon Delestre, riding Stardust Quinton, while Mendoza’s Great Britain team-mate Ben Maher took third on Boomerang.

    Image: Jessica Mendoza and Spirit T, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  7. Guy Williams wins the Olympia Snowman Stakes

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    Guy Williams delivered a shining display with chestnut stallion Golddigger to win the Levy Restaurants Snowman Stakes on day four of the London International Horse Show at Olympia.

    Williams, who is from Canterbury but now based in Deauville, northern France, claimed a thrilling victory that showcased his renowned talent against the clock.

    Riders were drawn into seven groups of four, with the quickest combination in each section going through to the jump-off, and Williams secured a place with a first round time of 58.79 seconds that delighted another bumper Olympia audience.

    Austria’s Max Kuhner set an immediate jump-off standard by clocking a time of 34.32 seconds with Cornet Kalua, but Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Hendrik then went almost half a second quicker to up the ante before Swedish challenger Peder Fredricson and H&M Sibon registered 32.37 seconds.

    Williams, though, was not to be denied as 16-year-old Golddigger made light work of the jump-off track, powering home in 31.13 seconds. The pair continued a successful start to the show for British showjumping, following Robert Whitaker’s victory on Thursday in the Porsche Cayenne Challenge.

    Williams’ win was confirmed when last-to-go German rider Hans-Dieter Dreher saw his ride Callisto stop sharply after being asked to make a tight turn.

    Williams said: “He (Golddigger) is difficult to ride indoors because he’s got such a massive stride. But he’s such a good horse and will do anything for you.

    “I am really happy to get my show started. I knew my plan going into the jump-off, and it was a very good class.”

    Williams will be a contender for further Olympia success during the next few days, such is his impressive level of consistency, with the experienced Titus being aimed at Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup qualifier.

    Image: Guy Williams and Golddigger, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International horse Show at Olympia

  8. Emily Proud and Alfie win the senior ridden championship at Olympia

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    Event rider Emily Proud landed the Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd senior ridden championship at the London International Horse Show at Olympia on Thursday with Alphaville of Oak. At 26, “Alfie” was the oldest in this 15-strong section, but he looks like a horse half his age.

    Proud, 20, has a showing background and admitted: “I missed showing so much this poor old boy was brought out of retirement. He didn’t much like doing nothing anyway and he is thoroughly enjoying his work. Our aim is to have as much fun as possible as well as qualifying for the SSADL Olympia final.”

    Second to Proud and Alfie was last year’s champions, Felicity Vaughan with What A Spark, ahead of Amy Cook and Paddington VI.

    The in-hand honours went to Christina Brooks and the 16-year-old Fell pony Guards Jester, from Victoria Littlewood with Moss Town Marz (19) and Sofie Carter and Hillowen Queenie (16).

    Image: Emily Proud at Alfie, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  9. Robert Whitaker takes the speed class at Olympia

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    Robert Whitaker ensured British success on day one of showjumping action at Olympia’s London International Horse Show.

    Whitaker, riding USA Today, landed the Porsche Cayenne Challenge speed class after clocking a time of 50.25 seconds, which was enough to edge Will Funnell and Billy Angelo into second place, with Laura Renwick and Heliodor Hybis third.

    “I watched a good few go and saw some mistakes and worked out what I had to do,” Whitaker said.

    “USA is not the fastest, but he was fantastic in there. He’s 14 now, and he definitely likes the atmosphere. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid to watch my father, and to win here is always fantastic.”

    The opening Santa Stakes went to rising Italian star Emanuele Gaudiano, whose jump-off pace aboard Casper proved too much for a chasing pack led by Britain’s John Whitaker.

    Gaudiano clocked a time of 33.52 seconds, giving him a narrow victory over 60-year-old John Whitaker and Argento, with Olivier Robert and Quenelle du Ry third.

    And Thursday’s action was completed with the Alltech Christmas Puissance, which reached a thrilling climax when Belgium’s Jos Verlooy, riding Sunshine, finished tied with Germany’s Hilmar Meyer, on Continuo.

    It proved to be a top-class competition, with both riders maintaining immaculate performances through to the fourth jump-off, as they both cleared the wall at just above seven feet.

    Meyer first came to Olympia a couple of years ago as a groom. Now, on his first visit as a competitor, he is celebrating winning one of one of the most prestigious classes. His horse, the 13-year-old Continuo by Contendro, is a puissance specialist and has taken many classes in Europe.

    “I’m very proud of my horse,” said Meyer. “It’s an unbelievable feeling jumping that high, but only with the right horse. It’s been great to ride here at Olympia, it’s such a great atmosphere.”

    Unusually, Verlooy, 20, was using the class as a warm-up for the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier on Sunshine, a nine-year-old chestnut gelding.

    “I think that jumping a puissance can work well as a warm-up before a really big class,” he explained. “It was really exciting. I couldn’t believe how easily my horse jumped.”

    Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer, riding Leonard de la Ferme CH, Victoria Gulliksen (Grand Balou), daughter of Norwegian Olympian and perennial Olympia visitor Geir Gulliksen, Ireland’s Trevor Breen on the dual Hickstead Derby winner Loughnatousa WB and last year’s runner-up, Karline De Branander from Belgium on her gallant mare Fantomas de Muze, all crashed out in the fourth round when the wall was 2.10m (6ft 11in).

    Image: Robert Whitaker wins the Porsche Cayenne Challenge speed class at Olympia aboard USA Today, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  10. Carl Hester takes the Olympia freestyle title

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    Carl Hester added one of the dressage titles missing from his enviable collection when he won the Reem Acra FEI World Cup freestyle class at Olympia.

    Hester, a mainstay of British teams for several years, has collected several major championship medals, highlighted by team gold at London 2012.

    He has also won more national competitions than any other British rider, but the London International Horse Show’s headline dressage class had always eluded him.

    It had also become the property of his Great Britain team-mate Charlotte Dujardin and the brilliant Valegro in recent times, but that all changed as Hester collected a £10,000 winner’s purse on his likely 2016 Rio Olympics horse Nip Tuck.

    Hester’s score of 83.750 per cent aboard Nip Tuck was enough to pip Dujardin and the stallion Uthopia into second place on 82.550 per cent, while Holland’s Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Flirt finished third and young British prospect Lara Griffith fourth.

    It meant that Hester avenged Tuesday night’s grand prix result, when he finished second behind Dujardin, whose Olympic, world and European champion Valegro is being prepared for Rio — where he will defend the Olympic individual title — and was rested from Olympia this year.

    Showjumping action now takes centre-stage at Olympia, with Britain’s world number one Scott Brash leading a star-studded field that also features fellow star names like Ben Maher, Michael Whitaker, Jessica Mendoza, Bertram Allen, Simon Delstre, Ludger Beerbaum. Kevin Staut and Marcus Ehning.

    Image: Carl Hester riding Nip Tuck at Olympia, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the Olympia horse show

  11. Charlotte Dujardin triumphs at the Olympia Grand Prix

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    Charlotte Dujardin once again made the Olympia stage her own as she opened the London International Horse Show by capturing yet another title.

    Britain’s world number one won the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Grand Prix for a fifth successive year — and she did it without the services of superstar ride Valegro.

    With Valegro being aimed at the World Cup final and Rio Olympics in 2016 and taking a breather from Olympia this year, Dujardin contested the opening night’s feature class aboard Uthopia.

    Owned by her mentor and trainer Carl Hester, Uthopia was making his return to top-level competition after an 18-month absence, and he did not disappoint.

    Dujardin set the standard from draw number one, posting a score of 77.460 per cent that none of her rivals could better, with Hester and Holland’s Hans Peter Mindehoud going closest.

    Hester took second with Nip Tuck on 76.660 per cent, while Mindehoud and Glock’s Flirt finished third, barely half a per cent behind Hester.

    “I had a really good ride,” Dujardin said. “Uthopia is not a horse I have competed very much, and this is a huge show to come to, but he has coped with everything really, really well. I was very happy with the test.”

    Image: Charlotte Dujardin rides Uthopia to victory at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Grand Prix, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia

  12. All you need to know about Olympia’s Ridden M&M Championship

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    The BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship at the London International Horse Show at Olympia on Monday, December 21, is one of the most prestigious finals in the showing world. It showcases our wonderful native breeds, which have qualified at shows across the country, with one from each breed going through.

    At Olympia, the finalists are judged in three sections: Dartmoor, Exmoor, Shetland, Welsh Section A and Section B; Dales, Fell, Highland, Connemara and New Forest, and Welsh Section C and D. They are assessed by four judges, with two doing performance, the others doing conformation. This year’s officials are Martin Jones and Rodger James (performance), with Len Bigley — best known for his Llanarth Welsh stud, and Henrietta Knight (conformation), National Hunt trainer and Connemara breeder.

    The contestants do their individual show for the judges and are then stripped for the conformation judges. Each judge then marks the pony out of 50. They will be looking for not just way of going and manners, but also breed type, which is vital in this class. The ride judges’ marks are displayed above the arena, but the conformation judges’ scores are not, so that the final result is not given away before the afternoon’s final judging.

    There is always a terrific atmosphere for this championship, with many in the crowd being supporters of the competitors in the ring, so expect whooping and hollering. The audience is knowledgeable, too, and you will be able to tell if they agree with the judges’ displayed scores — they tend to be quite vocal.

    This year’s field includes 17 Welsh ponies, five Connemaras, four Fells — including the striking grey Murthwaite Windrush — two Dales, two Shetlands, two Dartmoors, one Exmoor, one New Forest and three Highlands, two of which have the same owner.

    For my money, I’d go for one of the Highlands, Ben Breac of Croila (pictured above), who has had the most fantastic season. He qualified for this final by standing M&M supreme at Royal Windsor and took the Heritage supreme at the BSPS Summer Championships, too. But Olympia is Olympia and, on the day, anything is possible.

    Image: Ben Breac of Croila, pictured above at the North of England Show, is a strong contender for the BSPS Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship at Olympia. Image by Real Time Imaging/Steve Dawe

  13. Scott Brash leads top showjumping line-up at Olympia

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    World number one Scott Brash will lead a stellar line-up of riders for the London International Horse Show at Olympia.

    Four of the current global top 10-ranked performers — Brash, Frenchman Simon Delestre, Ireland’s Bertram Allen and German legend Ludger Beerbaum — are among confirmed entries, in addition to Daniel Deusser, who briefly disrupted Brash’s two-year reign as number one eight months ago.

    Brash’s top horse Hello Sanctos, the brilliant gelding on which he has achieved so much, will not be in London, though, and it is likely that Hello M’Lady will be aimed at the headline Longines FEI World Cup class.

    “I love Olympia,” Brash said. “The atmosphere is always great and the home crowd always cheer me, so I am looking forward to that.

    “I don’t often get the chance to ride in front of home fans, as there aren’t many five-star events in Britain, so it’s always nice to come home and compete in front of the home crowd.”

    A powerful German challenge also features Marcus Ehning, Marco Kutscher and Hans-Dieter Dreher, while former European individual champion Kevin Staut spearheads the French assault alongside Delestre, with Holland’s representation comprising major championship medallists Maikel van der Vleuten and Jur Vrieling.

    Brash apart, the considerable British entry also features recent Olympia-World-Cup winners Michael Whitaker and Ben Maher, young star Jessica Mendoza, who helped her country qualify for next year’s Rio Olympics through securing a fourth-placed European Championships finish in August, plus in-form riders Joe Clee and Laura Renwick.

    It would be no surprise, though, if Britain’s grand master — 60-year-old John Whitaker — rose above everyone, with ultra-consistent stallion Argento and richly-promising mare Ornellaia ready to grace the Olympia arena.

    Whitaker’s longevity is underlined by the fact that when he helped Great Britain win an Olympic team silver medal in Los Angeles 31 years ago, Brash was not born. And a possible sixth Olympics appearance after Los Angeles, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Beijing is firmly on Whitaker’s radar, especially given his powerful string of horses.

    “I have had a really good year,” he said. “My horses have been jumping well — they’ve been on form — and I can still win at my age, which is quite good!

    “For sure, gaining selection at the highest level is tough, and all you can do as a rider is keep doing your best. The mare is still improving, and if she keeps improving, I know I have a good chance (of Rio selection). I will try my best to get to Rio.”

    Reigning Olympic champion Steve Guerdat is also set for the five-day Olympia showjumping spectacular — he will be joined by his fellow Swiss star Pius Schwizer — with Italy represented by rising force Emanuele Gaudiano with Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic individual-bronze medallist Cian O’Connor also taking part.

    The showjumping action takes place from December 17-21, with considerable excitement also set to surround the Dodson & Horrell Under-23 British Championship, which parades some of Britain’s finest talent, including Mendoza, Millie Allen, Pippa Allen, Harry Charles, Emily Ward, Chloe Winchester and last year’s winner Kerry Brennan.

    Image: Scott Brash will head the showjumping line up at Olympia although his top ride, Hello Sanctos, won’t be there. Picture by Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0

  14. From social media to Olympia champion: meet the M&M pony who made it big

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    There can’t be many ponies — or horses, for that matter — who have qualified for the National Dressage Championships and Horse of the Year Show in the same season. What is more, Helen Skirton’s Moelview Prince Consort — by Moelview Chieftain out of Llangeitho Princess Royal — is just five years old and has started his career thanks to a social media post.

    Produced by mountain and moorland supremo Sam Roberts, he qualified for the dressage finals at the regionals held at Addington Manor. He went through to the open ridden Welsh section B class at HOYS at the first qualifier of the year at the NPS Spring Festival — as he had done the year before.

    Prince Consort, who is the reigning Olympia BSPS Heritage ridden M&M champion, having claimed the crown in London last December, competes in affiliated dressage at preliminary level and has notched up impressive scores of 86.75% and 87.03%.

    Roberts first saw the stallion as a yearling on a social media post and knew he was a winner. She snapped him up as a two-year-old and Skirton bought a share in him. He was lightly shown in-hand as a three-year-old, during which time he was rewarded with Welsh Pony and Cob Society bronze medals.

    In his first year under saddle, he won and stood champion at his first ever show, then stood supreme at his second. At his first attempt at an Olympia qualifier, he took championship at Royal Windsor.

    “Royal Windsor is a very special show to me, as I competed in my first Olympia qualifier when I was 11 years old, and have competed there every year since,” said Roberts, who won at the recent Royal International Horse Show with Prince Consort for the second year running.

    “He is a very special pony, who is lovely in every way, and I’m lucky to have him. Not many qualify for national dressage and HOYS showing finals at the first try. I am ecstatic.”

    Image: Prince Consort takes Olymia by storm, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Horse Power

  15. Meet the young hunter that’s making waves in the show ring

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    A young hunter is attracting favourable comment from show-goers and judges alike this season. Dawn Trimarco’s Darkwaters Dejavu won a huge four-year-old class at the Royal Welsh in July and has already qualified for next year’s Royal International Horse Show.

    “The judge at the Royal Welsh said he was his best ride to date,” said Trimarco, who bought the handsome chestnut from Darkwaters Stud last Christmas. “I just wish I’d entered him for the small hunters, too!”

    Dejavu is by Romarnic Ranger out of the State Premium Trakehner mare First Love. As a foal, he was the spitting image of his sire, hence his name. He has competed in dressage classes — finishing third in his first outing under saddle — and Blue Chip sport-horse classes. But his forte would appear to be the show ring — after qualifying for Hickstead at the Aintree National Show, he stood reserve hunter champion to none other than Robert Walker, beating some well-established competitors, and went one better at the Newport Show.

    Most recently, he won the four-year-old class at Anglesey County and stood overall hunter champion, ridden as always by Zara Owen. And at Wales and West Hunter Show this week (August 19), he was third in his first attempt at a Horse of the Year Show qualifier.

    “He was the only four-year-old in a massive class of 14, which included a Who’s Who of the small-hunter world,” said Dawn. “He has had some fabulous feedback from some of the top show judges so far and we are very excited for his future.”

    Image by David Puttock

  16. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro break records at Olympia

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    World champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro not only won the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Freestyle at Olympia last night but broke their own world record score set here last year.

    The pair pulled off a practically foot-perfect programme to music from the soundtrack to the film ‘How to Train your Dragon’, the same music that was playing when they won the world championship title at the World Equestrian Games in August. It was the best freestyle test ever ridden: their piaffe- pirouettes, passage half passes and bold daring extensions looked unbelievably easy and earned them a standing ovation from the crowd and a mark of 94.3% from thejudges.

    “He is the most incredible horse, he just keeps giving and giving,” says Charlotte. “I was absolutely thrilled with my ride – the last piaffe pirouette I was nearly in tears, he was with me all the way.”

    Copyright Kit Houghton

    Copyright Kit Houghton

    As last year, leading Dutch rider Edward Gal and Glocks Undercover came in second, with a test performed to Undercover’s rhythmic passage and piaffe.

    Olympia debutante Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, a former European Young Rider Champion, took third place with Beatrice Burchler-Keller’s Unee BB – an elegant black stallion by Gribaldi.


    Olympia will broadcast live on BBC2 on Sunday 21 December and is available to view on Eurosport, the BBC Red Button, online and connected TV on Wednesday 17, Thursday 18 and Monday 22 December. In addition a special highlights program will be aired on BBC2 on Tuesday 23 December at 13:45.