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The biggest win of my career: Longines FEI World Cup at Olympia

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British rider William Whitaker celebrated the biggest win of his career after claiming the Longines FEI World Cup Final at Olympia yesterday. Fighting back tears he said “This is the one class I think about every day. I’ve been coming here since I was two or three years old and to actually win it is a dream come true. To us British riders, the World Cup here is like a Championship and you only get one shot at it, a year. I have been thinking about it for a while and decided if I was clear, I wouldn’t hold back in the jump-off.”

 

Riding the stallion Utamaro D Ecaussines, who he partnered at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina earlier this year, William posted the fastest clear in the jump off. “I knew I had done a good round but when I looked down at the list and it was the best riders in the world left to jump, I didn’t think it was possible.  It helps that I was on such a horse. He has such a good brain and mentality. He was nearly falling asleep in the warm-up but he just lights up and grows a hand when he gets in the arena. We’ve had loads of fantastic performances but we’ve never managed to win a Grand Prix so to win one and it be this one on homer turf, is so special.”

 

The 29 year old from Huddersfield, is of course part of showjumping’s most successful family. Both his uncles John and Michael together with his cousin Robert Whitaker were competing in the World Cup yesterday. His uncle Michael was next best Brit, finishing in 4th place. “I have memories of my uncles jumping here,” William said. “The thought of winning the World Cup was one of those things that got me out of bed in the morning.”

 

Belgian rider Karel Cox claimed second place and America’s Laura Kraut finished third. Laura was one of five female riders competing, all of whom got through to the jump off, including Britain’s Laura Renwick.

 

 

 

Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick

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Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick

Laura Renwick has retained her position of leading British female rider for a number of years. She is certainly one of the busiest riders on the circuit and admits to sometimes competing more than 10 horses in a day. Perhaps surprisingly, Laura only started competing seriously at 26.  We caught up with the 44 year old at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show, to hear her story and find out what the season holds.

 

“I’ve got two top horses. Top Dollar VI has more ability than he has ever going to need but the rideability is always going to be a bit iffy so I have ruled myself out of selection for the World Equestrian Games this year but I am looking more towards the Olympics” she explains.

“I’m a bit short on top Grand Prix horsepower but we started breeding from some of my competition mares a few years ago and they are just starting to come through. So I’ve got some really promising young ones and hopefully this time next year, some of them will have reached fruition.”

Laura is married to former elite show jumper John Renwick, who gave up the sport in 2002 to focus on supporting his wife. She juggles competing all over the world with running the equestrian business and being a mother to son, Jack.

Amazingly it wasn’t until after the birth of her son that she started to make a name for herself as a rider. For many women, having children can force competitive sport to the back seat. Quite the opposite has happened for Laura, whose sporting career really started to take off after childbirth.

Introduced to horses by her mother, who owned a riding school, Laura was successful in show jumping from the age of 11. Prophetically, she bought her first jumping pony from John, her future husband.

At the age of 18, she questioned whether she wanted to make a career out of it and gave up competing for several years. “I was lucky that my parents supported me up to 18 but then but then I had to go it alone. This sport is tough, especially for anyone starting out and trying to support themselves. At the time I thought I should try something else.

Her sabbatical included being a flight attendant for BA and living in Spain. “If I had my time again I would have stuck at show jumping because it really is in my blood. That’s why I came back to it all these years later.”

Laura returned to the sport at the age of 25. She bought a young horse, which meant starting again from the beginning. Soon after, she met her husband on the competition circuit. To begin with it was purely a business partnership but it later evolved into marriage and parenthood.

“We bought some young horses together and in the early days whilst John was still riding at the top international competitions, I was producing the young horses. These are the horses that I am still riding now so it’s all been a working progress, we’ve learnt together. I think that’s why I have such a strong bond with our horses; we know each other inside out.”

As well as her training skills and empathy with horses, Laura is renowned for her fearless, competitive spirit. On a good horse, she would be hard to beat against the clock and has won a number of Puissance competitions. She won the prestigious Olympia Puissance last year, clearing 7ft on Top Dollar VI

A combination of skill, poise and style has garnered her sponsorship and she even took part in a risqué photography shoot to promote British show jumping. “It was a laugh and done to raise the sport’s profile, but I probably wouldn’t do anything like it again.”

This year Laura was asked to be show jumping ambassador for The Brooke charity’s “Every Horse Remembered” Campaign. I’m delighted to start my official support for Brooke as an Every Horse Remembered Ambassador. I’m looking forward to representing the campaign for Brooke in the British Show jumping scene” she said. “Horses have worked side by side with people for centuries, not least in the First world War. It’s vital that we remember the sacrifice they gave.

 

In order to stay in the game at this level, she and her husband have to be commercially minded. “We breed horses, train them and sell them, even some we would like to keep. John handles most of the business side of things now. He had a lot of injuries which is why I had to up my game and focus on competing.”

“We still have to make a living from it. Prize money in showjumping has gone through the roof, compared to what it used to be but you still have to have the horsepower to be at those shows with that prize money. You need to have a pool of Grand Prix horses to compete regularly at that level and the top riders have that luxury. So until you’re in that sort of league, you do still have to make your money where you can, so our horses are always for sale.”

Laura does not seem fussed that son Jack is more interested in football. “He can ride but has no interest in competing” she says. “I enjoy taking him to football training and have told him to work hard at it so he can look after us in our old age.”

The future looks bright for Laura and she hopes to consolidate her performance next season and “just keep enjoying it” she adds. Does she dare dream of future medals and team selection? “My top horse Top Dollar is more than capable. It’s just about hitting the form at the right time” she says.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Olympia Horse Show

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Written by Ellie Kelly Horse Scout press

The greatest exhibition of horsemanship: Olympia Horse Show

Horses, champagne and shopping are three of my favourite things. It’s always a heady cocktail of all that with an extra helping of festive fever at The London International Horse Show. Did you know it remains the UK’s largest indoor horse show and around 3000 bottles of champagne are drunk each year?

Olympia always attracts leading riders but this year, the line-up is nothing short of orgasmic. SEVEN of the world’s top ten showjumpers, some of the GREATEST dressage riders of all time plus the current Driving WORLD CHAMPION. Then throw in some damn fine looking Chilean men doing crazy things on horseback and throng of flat and jump jockeys, most of whom are the most FAMOUS on the planet.

Christmas Jumpers

With more talent than your Aunt Roberta’s knitting skills, this year’s jumping entries will raise the roof. The British line-up includes Scott Brash, Ben Maher, leading British lady, Laura Renwick as well as John and Michael Whitaker who have almost a century’s worth of experience between them (ouch).

European challengers include former World No 1 Simon Delestre, current World No 3 and recent winner of the  Rolex IJRC Final, Kevin Staut, FEI World Cup winner Steve Guerdat, Olympic silver medallist Peder Fredricson and the effervescent Lorenzo de Luca who is always a favourite with the crowds.

Perfect piaffes and how to produce the next Valegro

Olympia would not be the same without indulging in the nations love affair with Carl and Charlotte. The pair have practically owned the place with their performances for years now. Whilst neither are competing in the FEI World Cup classes, they will be inspiring and motivating us with a Masterclass on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday Carl will be entertaining and educating on the process of making a Grand Prix horse with Charlotte as his guinea pig and at times the brunt of his wicked humour. It’s hot gossip that Charlotte will be bringing her FEI World Equestrian Games hopeful, Mount St John Freestyle for her Masterclass on Tuesday.

The FEI World Cup London leg is as hotly contested as ever. There is Patrick Kittel, Swedish Olympian and leader of the Western League, Dutch maestro, Edward Gal and the home team includes Hayley Watson-Greaves, Emile Faurie, Richard Davison, Gareth Hughes and Lara Butler.

Doing it for charity

The Markel Champions Challenge is all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF). A cause close to most jockey’s hearts and some incredible jockeys go tête-à-tête in a relay show-jumping competition.

20-time Champion Jockey, Sir A P McCoy is coming out of retirement to lead the jump jockeys, in battle against the Flat jockeys led by none other than Frankie Dettori.  AP is not a man to rest on his laurels. “Last year, I watched from the side lines as my fellow jump jockeys got thrashed by Dettori’s boys. So this year I shall be picking my own team and shall be looking to the greats of the past to help me do this. Whilst we’ll be ultra-competitive, it’s all for such a great cause in the Injured Jockeys Fund.”

We all scream for Ex-treme

Hold your horses because once again, Olympia hosts three Driving competitions which has attracted some of the world’s best four-in-hand drivers. Thursday’s “Extreme Driving Top score” will warm up both the drivers and the spectators for the following two legs of the FEI World Cup.

As well as popular Ozzie and World champ Boyd Exell, British driver Dan Naprous will be staking a claim as will the most experienced and multi-medalled of any driver, Ijsbrand Chardon who has been at the top of the sport since the 80s.

 

All I want for Christmas…

Is an Animo show jacket, a Butet saddle and a Liberty Kelly poncho. With 225 shops embracing cutting edge fashion, bargain rugs and unique gifts, this place comes with a warning. Especially if you are anything like us and have hit the champagne bar beforehand. #shopresponsibly #tattinger

 

The Horse Scout Team will be at Olympia bringing news, views and inspiration.

 

Tickets to the London International Horse Show are still available for some performances and you can watch the best of dressage and show jumping action on the BBC.

https://www.olympiahorseshow.com/