The final day of the London International Horse Show provided a fitting conclusion to what has been a six-day exhibition of equestrian excellence. Notable victories in Show Jumping were achieved by the esteemed John Whitaker in the Six Bar, London International Horse Show Ambassador Jodie Hall McAteer in the Mistletoe Speed Stakes, and the triumphant team led by Ryan Moore which outperformed Sir AP McCoy’s side in the Markel Jockeys Jumping in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
The concluding class of the Show, the prestigious London Grand Prix, was won by Ireland’s Daniel Coyle riding Legacy, who produced a flawless double clear over the challenging 1.60m course. Meanwhile, Matthew Sampson ended his week in London as Leading Rider of the Show, after consistent placings in nearly every class since he won the opening Christmas Pudding Stakes on the first day of the Show.
Within the bustling schedule of the London International Horse Show, audiences have also been treated to a showcase of top-level sport and spectacle throughout the week, including The Kennel Club Dog Agility, the lightning-fast Defender Shetland Pony Grand National, and captivating displays from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Pride of Portugal Lusitano Display. The introduction of the New Horizon Plastics London Arena has expanded opportunities for both participants and visitors, hosting over 25 classes in the new Rising Star Showing Series, six LeMieux Masterclasses, the Brilliance Horse Auction, and more – all of which have proved to be immensely successful.
COYLE LEAVES A LEGACY
The London Grand Prix provided a fitting conclusion to the 2023 edition of the London International Horse Show, featuring 29 of the world’s best horse and rider combinations. Shane Breen was the first to jump clear over Guilherme Jorge’s testing 1.60m track, which required a combination of precision and agility. Dutch rider Jur Vrieling secured the jump-off jumping clear aboard Griffin van de Heffinck; however, it was Scott Brash who delighted the home fans when he added his name to the list of riders heading through to face the shortened course.
Daniel Coyle, riding Legacy – the horse on which he was third in the FEI Jumping World Cup – was the next to progress to the jump-off, with Britain’s reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher adding to the home crowd’s excitement with the fifth clear of the night. Additional clears came from 22-year-old French rider Jeanne Sadran, Switzerland’s Adrian Schmid, and former London Grand Prix winner Marcus Ehning, bringing the total number of clears to eight.
Looking ahead to the jump-off, Brash said: “I’m delighted with Hello Valentino’s performance so far; it’s one of the biggest courses he’s done – he’s still a young horse. Every horse is different; they are all individuals and they have to get used to competing on a stage like this, but I’m very pleased with him so far, so I’ll try my best.”
Ireland’s Breen was the first to tackle the jump-off, which involved tight turns and long galloping distances, but he accrued eight faults trying to set the pace required to win such a prestigious class. Vrieling – a former World and European team gold medalist – showed how it should be done, making the turns and jumping double clear, but left the door ajar to anyone willing to risk taking fewer strides down to the final fence.
An in-form Coyle did just that, scorching through the two fantastically tight turns incorporated into the jump-off which caught out his fellow riders, and knocking over two seconds off Vrieling’s time. FEI Jumping World Cup victor, Maher, had the crowd on the edge of their seats with a slick clear and nearly looked to have done enough; however, his time of 34.90 seconds was 0.08 seconds slower than the Irishman, and put him into second place.
Last into the arena was Germany’s Ehning, who has competed at this Show every year since 1998. Ehning rode a masterfully smooth round; however, he was not able to challenge the leaders and his double clear in a time of 39.03 seconds put him in fourth.
A delighted Coyle said: “It is amazing to have won The London Grand Prix tonight, and I did it for everyone in my team. I could not have done it without them behind me. It is totally unbelievable, although I wish I had also won yesterday as well. I was hungry for the win coming into this competition, so it is brilliant to have achieved it. Legacy was amazing – she deserved it.”
Speaking of his closest rivals, he continued: “These guys are pushing the limits. Ben had a great win yesterday and it was well deserved. Ben gave me a bit of a fright again tonight, as he is such a fast rider – he is an Olympic gold medalist, after all. I am just delighted to be amongst these great riders and honoured to be riding with them. We always watched the London International Horse Show whilst growing up at home; my brother is also a rider, so it is amazing to be competing here, let alone winning. This show contains a huge amount of history, and it is great to be a part of it.”
MORE SPEED FROM MOORE AND TEAM
An all-star team led by Ryan Moore, who last week was crowned Longines World’s Best Jockey for the fourth year in a row, won the Markel Jockeys Jumping in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. Moore’s team, consisting of Tom Scudamore, Joanna Mason, Sam Twiston-Davies, and Harry Skelton – son of Olympic gold medalist Nick – completed the course in a cumulative time of 124.28 seconds.
With two equestrian champions providing their invaluable expertise as team coaches – Pippa Funnell and Nick Skelton – it was a tightly contested battle with just eight seconds between the two teams. Moore’s rivals, led by 20-time champion National Hunt jockey Sir Anthony ‘AP’ McCoy, also featured former champion Flat jockey Jim Crowley, Harry Cobden, Lilly Pinchin, and Kielen Woods.
The Markel Jockeys Challenge takes place in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, an invaluable resource for the racing industry. The Injured Jockeys Fund has been going for 60 years and provides much needed help to injured jockeys and their families.
BEST OF THE BRITS
Earlier in the day, The Mistletoe Speed Stakes provided a thrilling finale to the Show’s 2023 speed classes. Held over one round, with the fastest clear taking home the spoils, 18 horse and rider combinations took on the forward and flowing 11 fence course. First to secure a clear was Italy’s Franceso Turturiello and Quite Balou, who with an exceptional turn back to third fence crossed the finish in a time of 55.77 seconds.
The stylish Marcus Ehning took risks throughout the course, but could not quite match the time of the Italian, which began to look hard to beat. However, winner of The Christmas Pudding Speed Stakes, Matthew Sampson, set off meaning business and flew around the course to come home over one second faster than Turturiello, much to the delight of the home crowd. Several other riders, including former World No. 1 Daniel Deusser, produced stylish clears, but Sampson’s time kept him at the top of the leaderboard.
With just four combinations left to go, Martin Fuchs and Viper Z produced a smooth but fast round to take the lead. However, next to canter into the International Arena, Jodie Hall McAteer and Kimosa Van Het Kritrahof set the British crowd alight with a perfectly judged round to push Fuchs off the top spot. With one left to go, fans were promised a British winner; however, when the first fence fell for Scott Brash, it was Hall McAteer who secured her very first International win at the venue.
A delighted Hall McAteer said: “I was able to watch Martin Fuchs, which was an advantage. His horse has a bigger stride than mine, so I had to use my pace a little bit more. Kimosa van het Kritrahof knows her job; she has had lots of experience, but I was really pleased with her and the great result. It’s such a great feeling to win here – the London International Horse Show is one of the best shows in the world. When you attend a show like this, you always want to do your best. It was a class that suited Kimosa van het Kritrahof today, and I am over the moon that we got the job done today.”
John Whitaker won the opening Jumping class of the day – The Six Bar – securing his second victory of the Show. Eighteen competitors came forward to take on the five-round competition, featuring six vertical tests of increasing height. Advancement to the next round was granted only to those who successfully cleared each fence, and by the fifth round there were only three combinations remaining. While the crowd showed support for the two runners-up, Duarte Seabre from Portugal and Switzerland’s Adrian Schmid, they erupted in celebration when Whitaker successfully cleared the final fence, standing at an impressive 1.9m (6ft 3in).
Speaking on his win, an emotional Whitaker said: “It wasn’t easy; it’s never easy. I was a little too fast in the second round, and got a bit lucky, but the last two rounds felt perfect. Sharid is exceptionally good at the Six Bar he won at Horse of the Year Show in October, and it was great to win the class today.”
More information about The London International Horse Show can be found at www.londonhorseshow.com.
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