Tag Archives: showjumping

Equine Herpes

International horse sport cancelled in Europe after one of the worst outbreaks of Equine Herpes in living memory.

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The FEI announced last night (1 March) that all international events in 10 countries in mainland Europe would be cancelled with immediate effect, until at least 28 March. This was due to an outbreak of the most serious strain of EHV-1 (Equine Herpes), the neurological form which attacks the central nervous system of the horse and is highly contagious. It is known so far that four horses have been euthanised over the weekend and 84 horses in Valencia alone had tested positive. 

A spokesperson from the FEI refers to it as “the rapid evolution of a very aggressive strain of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).” It  has been traced back to Valencia in Spain and has already resulted in related outbreaks in at least three other countries in Europe.


This rule applies to all FEI sports, not just showjumping. However, the FEI have also decreed that in order to prevent huge numbers of horses simultaneously departing the Jumping Tours on the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy and Belgium that have been ongoing for a number of weeks, these specific Tours will be allowed to continue as individual “bubbles” on the condition that absolutely no new horses are allowed to enter the venues and no positive cases of Equine Herpes (EHV-1) are confirmed.

The Jumping Tour venues in Spain- Vejer de la Frontera, Portugal- Vilamoura and Italy- San Giovanni in Marignano and Gorla Minore (ITA) will have stringent biosecurity protocols in place and additional FEI Veterinary Delegates onsite. According to the FEI, horses will only be permitted to leave these venues when they are in possession of an official health certificate from the local Veterinary Authorities. Any horses leaving these venues without this documentation will be blocked on the FEI Database. It is also illegal to transport a horse without an official health certificate.

The popular Spanish venue of Oliva Nova had already advised the FEI that it will be cancelling the rest of its scheduled competitions in the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour III. Opglabbeek in Belgium has also informed the FEI that it has cancelled its events in March.

A number of European countries have already cancelled all their events to reduce transmission of the virus as far as possible. The UK- not part of the list, has not returned to competition due to Covid enforced lockdown conditions. 


The ten countries in question are France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia. The decision has been made in accordance with FEI General Regulations Article 112.3, which state: “The Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.”


Speaking on their decision, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said:

“This was not an easy decision to block events in mainland Europe, particularly after the major disruption to the FEI Calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe for many decades and our decision is based on clearly identified epidemiological risk factors.

This strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has already caused equine fatalities and a very large number of severe clinical cases. We need to keep our horses safe.

We are also aware that a large number of horses left the venue in Valencia without an official health certificate, meaning they had an unknown health status. Some horses were already sick, and the risk of transmission from these horses is a major concern.

Cancelling these competitions in mainland Europe, with the exception of the ongoing Jumping Tours in the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, limits the number of horses travelling internationally and therefore reduces the likelihood of this very serious virus being transmitted on an increasingly wider scale. We also strongly recommend that the affected member Federations should also cancel their national events.

We are very conscious of the fact that this is a very stressful and distressing time, and that this is potentially hugely disruptive for those athletes aiming for their Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) or confirmation results for Tokyo, but we are looking at ways to alleviate that in order to assist athlete/horse combinations in getting their MERs or confirmation results once the events in mainland Europe are allowed to resume.”


The FEI is conscious that some athletes have already arrived on competition venues or are en route, and is directly contacting all impacted athletes entered in Events between now and 28 March 2021.


A widespread testing programme is being carried out. Symptoms of Equine Herpes include: 

  • High temperature
  • Nasal discharge
  • A dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced performance 
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Unable to pass urine or droppings
  • Poor limb coordination- in severe cases unable to stand

It can be spread via direct horse to horse contact but also contaminated equipment, handler clothing or boots.


Written by Horse Scout reporter, Ellie Kelly.


OLYMPIA RAISES OLYMPIC HOPES

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe London International Horse Show at Olympia signals a round-up of the equestrian year. This coupled with that festive feel-good factor shared amongst riders and spectators alike, makes it one of the best shows on the European circuit.

 

This year was no different and it further reinforced the gravitas of Olympia, which first took place in 1907 making it one of the oldest and most prestigious shows on the continent. With seven of the world’s top ten show-jumpers competing, including World Number one and two Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs. This together with the reigning Olympic dressage gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin plus Carl Hester and the FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell, proves the show as one of great significance to the equestrian world. And beyond- Olympia is one of only three British equestrian events still broadcast annually by the BBC.

 

The show attracted riders from a wealth of nations but in almost every discipline, it was British riders who dominated. With the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics less than seven months away, riders have something to prove to selectors. In addition, the end of January is the cut off point for horses to change hands if they are to be campaigned by riders at the Olympics. So you could say Olympia gave us a bit of a glimpse of what may be to come.

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The Dressage World Cup class at Olympia is the only British qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup Final and it was as hotly contested as ever amongst Britain’s leading riders. The top three places in both the FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix were filled by Charlotte Dujardin (Mount St John Freestyle) in first, Carl Hester (Hawtins Delecato) in second and Lottie Fry (Everdale) in third. It was something of a deja-vous the following day when the placings were replicated in the World Cup Freestyle to Music.

 

This was Charlotte’s fourth win in the FEI World Cup. Although it was a first with the talented British bred mare by Fidermark, having previously won it and set the record on Valegro. “This was her third ever Freestyle. The crowd felt even closer tonight and it was a difficult floorplan. She really tried and listened to me. I’ve had my highs and lows this year (referring to disqualification at the European Championships for blood on a flank) and it is great to end the year with such a positive ride.”

 

With the Olympics in mind, judge Andrew Gradner was particularly pleased with the British dressage domination: “These horses are young, so there is more to come. This is my favourite show and judging horses of this calibre here is such a treat.”

 

Olympia is a personal favourite for many leading British showjumpers and whilst there was the notable absence of John and Michael Whitaker from the line-up, Olympic gold medallists Ben Maher and Scott Brash both brought a team of horses and Holly Smith had three.

 

Whilst the World Cup was won by Swiss rider, Martin Fuchs on Sinner, Scott further cemented his place at the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas with a fifth placing on Hello Jefferson. Speaking in the press conference, Scott believes that this could be his mount for the Tokyo Olympics this year. Indeed the 10 year old gelding by Cooper vd Heffink seems to improve in form with each outing. The pair were crucial to the British FEI Nations Cup victory in Dublin back in August which set them in good stead for a team bronze and Olympia qualification at the European Championships in Rotterdam.

 

Scott pulled off another great display of horsemanship in the final class of the show, The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. This time riding Hello Vincent, a recent purchase and previously the ride of Jodie Hall McAteer, the 19 year old British starlet who also had a good show with a win in the Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship. Scott was notably enthusiastic about the young gelding. “I’m so proud of Vincent- he was amazing. Winning my last grand prix of the year, in front of a home crowd- it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Seven riders made it through to the jump-off and four of them were British. Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander was the only non-Brit to squeeze into the top four with a second place on brand new ride Identity Vitserol.

 

Third place went to Holly Smith on Hearts Destiny who has enjoyed her best season yet with a Nations Cup win and the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin and a bronze medal at the Europeans. Holly enjoyed an outstanding Olympia and took the Leading Rider accolade by an incredible 28 points.

 

“I’m absolutely delighted with all three of my horses but Heart’s Destiny has taken me to places I’ve only dreamed of. The calibre of riders here at Olympia- seven of the world’s top 10- makes it all the more special.”

 

Fourth place in the Grand Prix went to 25 year old James Wilson, a new face on the British Nations Cup team this year. Riding Imagine de Maze, the mare has kept James starry eyed this year. “This horse has made all my dreams come true: my first World Cup, my first Nations Cup and now my first Grand Prix placing. She has catapulted me right up there and now I’ve got Tokyo in my sights.”

 

So in our humble opinion, and if Olympia is anything to go by, the Brits may have more than just Tokyo in their sights. Bring on the medals!

Written by Ellie Kelly

Flying Scotsman Scott Brash wins World Cup in Verona

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Scott Brash restored British showjumping hopes after winning the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup in Verona. Riding Lady Kirkham’s Hello M’lady, the Scotsman jumped the fastest clear round in the jump off to claim the title, in a strong field including World Number one Steve Guerdat.

 

“This means a lot and I am delighted with my horse” said Brash who heralds from Peebles in Scotland. “M’lady is a fantastic horse but a delicate mare. She can get a little stressed with the atmosphere so it took me a bit of time at the show just to get her to relax but her talent showed through today. She also jumped at the European Championships to help qualify Great Britain for the Olympics “.

 

Brash was on the team which won gold in the London 2012 but Britain’s success at team championship level has since been erratic. The 34 year old has also occupied the limelight less frequently of late, for a man who has been top of the world rankings more than once and was the first rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam, showjumping’s most lucrative prize in 2015. In a sport where you are only as good as the horse you are sat on, Brash has lacked the horsepower after many of his top horses have been retired or off with injury. Despite a prolific career, he is not yet qualified for Tokyo

 

Olympic ambitions are what motivates Brash. He has aimed for the World Cup Series to increase his chances of Olympic selection and with it, another gold medal. Whilst Britain has qualified for Tokyo, he needs to gain enough FEI points in order to be considered for a team or individual place. “The Olympics is on my mind. M’Lady is going to be one of my strongest contenders for next year. She has been off for quite a while through injury sustained a few years back but it is nice to feel her competitive at the top of the sport again. I have high hopes for next year”.

 

Photo credit: FEI /Massimo Argenziano

FROM ZERO TO HERO: BRITISH SHOWJUMPING SCORE TRIUMPHANT WIN IN DUBLIN NATIONS CUP

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailEllie Kelly reporting from the Royal Dublin Show

 

Last week we published a story about the future of British showjumping. This week we want to retract it. The Brits are back on top after decisive win at Dublin on Friday following on from Ben Maher claiming his fifth London Global Champions title.

 

When the going gets tough, the British get going. It was the final leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup at the Royal Dublin Show. Team GB were at the bottom of the Western European table after a disappointing season and the chance of qualifying for the Final seemed long gone. Our British riders showed enormous courage, stoicism. Di Lampard’s team of Ben Maher, Scott Brash, Holly Smith and Emily Moffitt, jumped phenomenally to finish the two round competition on just one time penalty. Some 11 points ahead of Italy in second with Ireland in third on 16 points.

 

The Nations Cup victory propelled the British team from the bottom of their division to seventh place – a result which has booked them a ticket to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. The significance of this is that it offers another chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in addition to the European Championships in Rotterdam, later this month.

 

This has been a challenging period for British showjumping who despite winning team gold in London 2012 and individual gold in Rio 2016 are still not qualified for Tokyo 2020. They are also reliant on good results to retain their significant Lottery Funding. For the majority of the Nations Cup season Britain have existed at the bottom of the table for the Western European League. The pressure was immense in Dublin, yet they put in a stellar performance and pulled off victory without needing Holly Smith to compete in the second round.

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It must have come as a huge relief to Performance Manager Di Lampard who has been challenged by a lack of choice available to the British team in terms of strong horse-rider combinations, for a number of seasons. She was full of praise for the number of loyal British owners who have put their faith in the British system and made their horses available for these championships.

 

“We’ve ridden the storm this season, we’ve had the downs and the difficulties, but it had to change, some time and with a good team and the right spirit I felt it was going to come right this week”said Di after collecting the coveted Aga Khan Trophy, at a prize-giving ceremony attended by The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. This was the 27th British win of the prestigious Aga Khan Trophy in the 93 year history of the event.

 

Di herself has been a winning rider of this trophy, during her career as a leading showjumper. “I remember 1996, winning the Aga Khan Cup with Abbervail Dream, the sportsmanship of the crowd was incredible as we went toe to toe with the Irish” she reflected.

Dublin Horse Show 2019

“With the win we secure a place in the Barcelona final and we were determined to carry that out – the Aga Khan trophy was always coming home with us!” As she pointed out, there’s been something of a generational shift going on in British showjumping.

 

“Over the last three years we’ve been producing young riders and a larger squad of riders, and you can’t rush these things. They need the right horses and they need owners to stick with them and that all takes time”she explained. The changing of the guard can indeed be a painful process, but today’s result showed that British showjumping is definitely on an upward curve once again.

 

Rider injury has also plagued the British camp and three of the team members have suffered heavy falls in recent week. This was Holly Smith’s first competition back since breaking her shoulder five weeks ago. Amanda Derbyshire, who has had a successful show at Dublin but was not competing in the Nations Cup. Her other top horse Roulette, was sidelined after a crashing fall of horse and rider at the Hickstead Nations Cup last month which left Amanda in hospital with facial injuries and her horse at Newmarket Equine Hospital where he is recovering well.

 

With this pivotal victory achieved in fine style, Di Lampard is focused on the Longines FEI European Championships later in the month where Maher, Brash and Smith will be joined by Amanda Derbyshire and Laura Renwick on the British Team. “Now we are really confident about going to Rotterdam and winning a medal and our place in Tokyo” she said.

British Showjumping pin all their Olympic hopes on Rotterdam

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailShould we be worried about the state of British Showjumping?

 

After winning team gold in London 2012 and individual gold in Rio 2016, it seems hard to believe that Team GB have not even qualified for Tokyo 2020. After a disappointing Nations Cup Series where Britain are at the bottom of their division which will mean they cannot qualify for the Nations Cup Final. Our final chance for Olympic qualification comes with the FEI Longines European Championships in Rotterdam, Holland, which take place from 19–25 August 2019.

 

Yet all is not lost, the Brits are famous for pulling it out the bag when it really matters. They have been here before and it was a similar “last chance saloon” story before Rio. Furthermore with two Olympic gold medallists, currently Britain’s highest FEI-ranked showjumpers on the list in Ben Maher and Scott Brash, supported by three talented girls, their chances are strong.

 

The selected squad has been named by British Showjumping selectors as:

  • Scott Brash MBE (33 years) from Peeblesshire and based in West Sussex with Lady Pauline Kirkham & Lady Pauline Harris’ Hello M’Lady (bay, mare, 13yo, Indoctro x Baloubet du Rouet).
  •  Amanda Derbyshire (30 years) from Leyland in Lancashire and based in the USA with Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Luibanta BH (bay, mare, 11yo, Luidam x Abantos).
  • Ben Maher MBE (36 years) from Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire with Poden Farms’ Explosion W (chestnut, gelding, 10yo, Chacco Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet).
  • Laura Renwick (44 years) from Maldon in Essex with Arabella Prior’s Dublin V (chestnut, gelding, 11yo, Vigaro x Calvados).
  • Holly Smith (30 years) from Wymeswold in Leicestershire with TJ Hall Ltd’s and her own Hearts Destiny (British Bred) (bay, gelding, 10yo, Heart Throb x Rabino).

 

Performance Manager Di Lampard said “The European Championships this year are absolutely crucial if we are to qualify for the Olympic Games at Tokyo next year. I have full faith that the selection panel have put together a very strong team who could not only secure a qualifying ticket for Tokyo but also medal in both the Team and Individual Finals. I would like to personally thank all the owners that have made their horses available and of course the riders who are as committed as I am to delivering for Great Britain. In addition I extend my thanks to the dedicated support team at the BEF and British Showjumping who also play a vital role”

 

British Showjumping Chief Executive Iain Graham commented “We go forward to Rotterdam with a strong team in whom I have full confidence. In Ben and Scott we have two London 2012 Team Gold medallists who have also held the top spot individually on the world ranking lists. Both Holly and Amanda have proven themselves as Championship Team riders and Laura Renwick has been having consistent success at top level. I would like to congratulate the entire team on their selection and also thank the owners who have generously made their horses available for the British campaign as we set our sights on Tokyo.”

 

According to Scott Brash, he has been saving his horse for this opportunity. “My plans for Hello M’Lady this year have been entirely based around preparing her for the Europeans, so that I knew she would be ready for these all-important championships from where we need to qualify for Tokyo 2020. I was delighted to receive the call-up for the team and would like to take this opportunity to thank my owners Lord and Lady Kirkham and Lord and Lady Harris for their ongoing support.”

 

Amanda Derbyshire who suffered a dramatic fall in the FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead is excited to be a mainstay of the team. She was best of the Brits at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron last year on Luibanta. “I couldn’t be any happier to be selected for what will be my second Championships. Obviously I wish I hadn’t had a fall recently but I feel confident that I and Luibanta will be going to the Championships in fighting form.”

 

Ben Maher will be bringing his Global Champions Tour Champion Explosion W. “Representing Great Britain at championship level is always an honour and I would like to thank the Moffitt family and Poden Farms for making their outstanding horse, Explosion W, available for Rotterdam. This is a crucial championships for us in terms of qualifying for Tokyo and I am delighted to be part of the team that has been entrusted to deliver that all-important Olympic ticket.”

 

The ever green Laura Renwick has made a number of Nations Cup appearances but this will be her first championship for Team GB. “I’m really excited and proud to have been selected to represent my country at not only my first European Championships but also one that is extremely important to Great Britain in terms of Olympic qualification. I would like to thank my owner Arabella Prior and her family who own Dublin V and of course my husband John for his ongoing support and belief in me.”

 

Holly Smith is another consistent performer with ice cool nerves and a seriously talented partner in Hearts Destiny. “I’m delighted and honoured to be representing Great Britain again on a Championship team. We have a serious task ahead of us in Rotterdam in respect of qualifying for Tokyo and I’m absolutely focused on giving it my best shot at making sure we do just that.”

Mexican Young Guns take Nations Cup glory

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In any sport when the underdog wins, it makes for great entertainment. So when the Mexican team took a decisive victory in the very first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida the press conference was a joyous affair.

 

The youthful foursome fought off some of the world’s most successful nations including the USA, Canada, and Ireland. In fact, it was the youngest two Mexican riders with the least team experience who sealed the deal with their double clear performances. These came from 23-year-old Eugenio Garza Perez riding Victer Fin DHZ and 24-year-old Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane on the athletic grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk. The other two riders played their part with low-faulted rounds from Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) on Cor Bakkar and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) riding Tino la Chapelle.

 

Tryon’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12 and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.

 

The Mexican quartet kept a cool head and clung on to their lead in the second round, which caught out a number of the world’s leading riders such as World No 2 Mclain Ward and Beezie Madden who both faulted. Fernando Martinnez Sommer commented on the technicality of the course. “The course was difficult enough, for me my horse has a very big stride so I had to go a bit steady all the time.”

 

All four riders were quick to praise their Chef d’Equipe Constant van Paesschen, not just for their Nations Cup victory but what he has delivered to Mexican showjumping during his short career so far. Stany van Paesschen had similar positive words “From when I came two years ago, I said I am going to try as much as I can to push some young riders forward. We have some great young riders but we also have some great support from professional and older riders. I think we have a great team.”

 

Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to be based in the USA, said: “Today’s result is a testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”

 

He was a member of the historic site that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final 2019.

 

“There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona and we intend to take it!” He said.

 

Team Israel had a great show too. Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for the second spot. The Americans looked strongest at the outset, with an extremely experienced team of Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA, and Canada were entitled to qualifying points in today’s competition, so they claimed 100, 80 and 60 points respectively.

 

AP McCoy on being a dad, sporting idols and why he is coming to the Liverpool International Horse Show

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe rider line-up for the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show is always a star-studded one. It’s popular with the Whitakers, Harry and Peter Charles and Scott Brash is a regular. But this year, we can expect to see the whole McCoy family there. That’s AP McCoy- perhaps one of the best known and most loved jockeys of all time, plus wife Chanelle, daughter Eve and son Archie. Horse Scout’s blogger Ellie Kelly was lucky enough to interview AP and Chanelle recently and this is what they had to say…

 

“I was told I had to be in Liverpool by the 30th December by my daughter Eve. It just shows you how things change in your life when you start getting bossed around by your eleven-year-old daughter” says twenty times Champion Jockey, AP McCoy. Now retired from National Hunt racing, despite being one of the greatest figures in sporting history, he now finds himself “being dragged to shows and mucking out ponies!”

 

Eve who is an avid young showjumper and clearly a chip off the old block will be competing in the mini-major competition, together with a number of young riders competing alongside celebrity showjumpers. The mini major will feature approx. 14 pairs of kids paired up with top professionals all in fancy dress. Previous pros that have competed in this class include the very fast GB rider Matt Sampson, John Whitaker, and the UK’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick.  The class will be the feature of the afternoon performance on Sunday 30th December.

 

“Eve is mad excited about going to Liverpool and I was told I had to be there so I’m flying back from Leopardstown especially” says AP. “She really loves competing and she’s got plenty of bottle which you can’t teach a kid. I see certain traits in her as I have- she’s not a great loser and she gets upset with herself. Even when it goes wrong or I shout at her, she comes back for more. No matter how much a parent gives their kids they can’t give them nerve and desire, that has to come from within. You can feed it and nurture it but at the end of the day it has to come from the kid.”

 

AP talks about the importance of having sporting idols and watching those riders in order to improve.  For Eve, Nick Skelton is her hero.

 

“I took her and a friend up there last year and Nick and Laura Kraut gave them a riding lesson. For her, it was the best thing ever, she was more interested in him than she was in me.”

 

“We’ve planned the Christmas around it” says an excited Chanelle. “We have no expectations, Eve does of course. But I think it’s a brilliant experience for kids to feel the pressure of the big day when they are young. It really prepares you for the later in life and when you do go into the working world, it helps if you know those emotions already.

 

“She’s very conscious of impressing her dad which is nice but we had to sack AP as an instructor because of that clash of personality” she laughs. “AP and I were very relaxed as to whether she was into ponies or not, it had to be something that came from her but she really loves it and she wants to be the best. It’s lovely that she is so ambitious. It must be in her DNA that she is not satisfied taking part, she wants to win.”

 

“Nick Skelton is her hero, she once asked me if Nick was too old for her to marry. She was so in awe of him when she went up for a lesson. She had lots of questions for him and I thought well isn’t it great that she’s got an icon like Nick rather than some social media influencer.”

 

Chanelle talks about the differing emotions she feels when watching her daughter show jump in comparison with watching AP race.

 

“Watching Eve, I feel excited. With AP it was a different emotion because with being a jump jockey, injury was very much part of the course, so you’re always worried. Watching my daughter showjumping is so enjoyable and I get quite emotional when she does well.”

 

Even though I don’t miss AP riding because I’m so grateful that he has retired in one piece and he doesn’t have any severe injuries but I think we would miss the buzz if we had nothing. Whereas now, there is not a nicer weekend for me where we load up the lorry and head off to show.

 

www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

 

BEHIND THE SCENES: GRIT, GLAMOUR AND GREAT SPORT AT THE LONGINES FEI NATIONS CUP FINAL BARCELONA 2018

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I was lucky enough to be reporting at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final In Barcelona last week. Not only was there great sporting action, a masterful display of horsemanship and a tantalising finish. Beyond this, there were some high profile individuals and interesting back-stories that really highlighted what a special sport this is.

 

Having breakfast in the hotel one morning I was sat next to Jessica Springsteen. The drop-dead gorgeous daughter of Bruce was looking very much in love with boyfriend, Italian heartthrob Lorenzo de Luca, as she ate her boiled egg.  Lorenzo was later caught buying his girl a present in the shopping village.

 

Across the room was World No 1, Harrie with the rest of the Dutch team and World No 2 Mclain Ward, fresh from winning team gold at WEG. Mclain was over to train 19-year-old showjumping sensation; Lucy Deslauriers who was making her first big team appearance for the USA. Extraordinarily Lucy’s father Mario was also competing but for his homeland of Canada. Now 53 years of age, Mario was the youngest ever winner of a World Cup Final at the age of 19 and he and his daughter could make headlines if they both achieve their dreams of being selected for the Tokyo Olympics, for their respective Nations.

 

Also competing at the show were the UAE team who are rising stars. After a fascinating interview, I discovered every one of them has a full-time job and compete just a handful of horses alongside this. Jobs included a policeman, an office administrator and a camel trainer.  “Football is the only professional sport but we are trying to change that” I was told.

 

“Never give up” was the take away message from this year’s prestigious competition. Held in the popular Real Club de Polo in Barcelona for the sixth year in a row, it was the Belgians who won the oldest jumping competition in the world and lifted the Nations Cup trophy. But it was by no means decisive and Peter Weinberg, Chef d’Equipe of the team summed up the result and in that, the very nature of equestrian sport. “We call ourselves the “Never Give Up Team” because in the middle we had two with 12 faults already but still we were fighting to the last rider, so this victory means a lot to us!”

 

With one of the most challenging tracks this final has seen, of the eight nations who went through to the final, just three riders jumped clear. It is hardly surprising that Course Designer Santiago Varela has been selected as course designer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The track was imposing and technical and questioned control, balance, judgement and skill, all the way around. As Varela pointed out it wasn’t about the number of faults the riders collected. “A score of 8 or 12 didn’t mean they had a bad round, horses jumped unbelievably, but the course was difficult, tough and big…and everything was connected”, he explained.

 

As was the case with most of the teams, the Belgians had mixed fortunes, Niels Bruynseels gave the team confidence with a superb clear from Gancia de Muze but both Pieter Devos (Claire Z) and Jos Verlooy (Caracas) each leaving three fences on the floor. However, it was the dashing Nicola Philippaerts, who saved the day with a sublime clear round on H&M Harley v. Bisschop and that sealed the deal.

 

Nicola said his teammates told him “everything is still possible” when he was last to go. “I just tried to ride my own class and it worked out well – today it was me that could make the clear round that would make a difference, and another time it will be one of the others”. And he had even more reason to be pleased when sharing the €100,000 bonus for double-clear performances with team-mate Bruynseels, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Italy’s new star, Riccardo Pisani.

 

This was Belgium’s second win of the Longines FEI Nations Cup in Barcelona; their last came in 2015. As Chef d’Equipe Weinberg said: “it was an interesting day, first ups and then in between downs, but in the end, we won anyway so it was really great sport!”

 

 

 

 

NIGEL COUPE- The win that made me

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Until last year Nigel Coupe was a name that had not been heard on the international showjumping scene for some time. It was at Hickstead that together with Golvers Hill, a horse bought for showing, Nigel reminded the world of his talents, by winning The Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead, one of the most iconic showjumping events. Since then he won Cock of the North and the Horse of the Year Show Grand Prix plus the Leading Rider award. “I’ve had a good spell since the Derby” he says humbly.

 

“Winning the Derby was amazing. I’ve grown up watching it, so to win it was a bit of a dream. It all seems a long time ago now but coming here as defending champion and seeing myself in the Hickstead magazine from last year, brings it all back” he says on the eve of this year’s Hickstead Derby.

 

Nigel is now 47 years old but first entered The Derby 28 years ago. Although he competed at Hickstead as a boy on 12.2hhs, so the historic venue is a special place for him. He took a 10 year break from riding in The Derby until 2015, when he finally had a horse suitable. The Irish bred Golvers Hill (aka Ricky) who Nigel half owns, was bought by his other owner as a four year old and started life as a Working Hunters. “We got to the stage that he couldn’t do both and I always rated the horse as a jumper so we decided to concentrate on the jumping. He’s my best horse now” Nigel says of the 15 year old. Ricky who is by Ricardo Z out of a Clover Hill mare, has been consistent on all his three Derby attempts. Finishing second on his first attempt in 2015 and fifth in 2016 before the big win.

 

So what makes a perfect Derby horse? “They need to be brave and careful. Definitely not spooky and not afraid to take something on. Irish horses are notoriously good at the Derby and I think they often last a bit longer than some of the others” he believes. “In the old days people jumped their best horses in The Derby, now they go for the bigger prize money in the Global Champions Tour. Then again some horses would not suit the small GCT arenas, like at Monte Carlo which is on the same weekend, just as Hickstead suits certain horses more than others.”

 

With an experienced horse like Ricky, Nigel would not do much specific training for The Derby. “I practice more when they are younger and definitely when they do their first Derby. With a more experienced horse, they know what to expect so you don’t need to train so hard. But I do jump through a Dyke a few times and practice some ditches.”

 

Nigel runs a 50 box commercial yard in Prescott, Lancashire. Like most professionals, he has to make a living from training and livery as well as producing and selling horses. “Unfortunately I don’t have 5 Grand Prix horses to win big prize money on and decent horses fetch good money, so it’s a balancing act.”

 

Last year’s Derby success has been life-changing for Nigel, who has been knocking on the door of international stardom for many years. He has made several appearances on Nations Cup Teams and was a mainstay on the British youth teams winning several medals at Junior and Young Rider level.

“Winning the Derby did open up new opportunities and I have had new owners come on board and sponsors approach me. It increases your profile and has definitely brought me more of a following on social media.”

 

And the dream… “I try not to have dreams but in the long-term I want to build up a better string of horses and keep enjoying it. In the short term? I want to win The Derby again tomorrow” he smiles.

Written by Ellie Kelly

Andrew Hoy: Fatherhood has given me a new lease of life On flying form at The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show

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“I’ve had a new lease of life since becoming a father” said Andrew Hoy after winning the Eventing Grand Prix at Bolesworth  International Horse Show. This fiercely competitive pairs competition, sponsored by Cazenove Capital involves showjumpers and eventers joining forces in a thrilling dual sport competition. Andrew’s showjumping partner was Beth Vernon, who left all the rails up in in one of the fastest time, before Andrew completed a short course of arena cross-country fences on to three show jumps to finish. The competition attracted a number of prolific showjumpers and eventers including Chris Burton, Tom McEwen, Alex Hua Tian, Matthew Sampson, Joe Clayton and Harriet Nuttall.

 

Andrew a seven time Olympian, belied his 59 years by storming around the challenging course in the fastest clean round, on Cheeky Calimbo, the horse he has ridden at four star level. “He’s cheeky by name and cheeky by nature” he said after his round, with his 10 month old daughter Philippa sitting on his lap. “I picked him for this class as he is a great jumper and I know him so well. It was a really exciting competition but it was really difficult having to show jump at the end after you have galloped across-country.”

 

Having won four Olympic medal- three gold and one silver, Andrew is one of the most successful event riders of all time. Yet we have not seen as much of the Australian rider at top level in recent years. He explained that he has been quietly working away in the background, producing some new horses. “I have a maximum of 15 horses now and a new generation of horses coming through.”

 

There is one in particular that he is excited about. A nine year old called Vassily de Lassos, who he bought from French International rider, Thomas Carlisle. “I’ve only had him 12 months and when Tom told me about him, he explained that he needed a pony (for company) and was a weaver, so I wasn’t particularly keen.” When Andrew sat on him, he still wasn’t particularly impressed. “But I kept looking at his record which was exceptional. Since 2013, he has only had one showjumping rail in FEI events.”

 

Andrew views him as a horse for the World Equestrian Games later this year and is hoping to run him at Aachen this summer to impress selectors. The impressive French bred horse is by the prolific stallion Jaguar Mail and finished 8th at Blenheim CIC 3* for 8 and 9 year olds. “I couldn’t be more excited for the future with this truly once in a lifetime horse” he said.

 

So no sign of hanging up his legendary boots any time soon then.  “I might be getting older but I am enjoying eventing even more” he smiled.

 

Written by Ellie Kelly