This year’s London International Horse Show at Olympia has attracted the crme of Europe’s jumping and dressage riders. Among those who intend to compete in the jumping classes are Germanys world number one Marcus Ehning, World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, and Swedish star Malin Baryard-Johnsson.

Although the final line-up is never confirmed until the show starts, the list is a veritable Whos Who of the sport. It includes Dutch compatriots Gerco Schroder, who leads the Western European league and Harrie Smolders, as well as Danish riders Thomas Velin and Linnea Ericsson, plus Cheshire-based Billy Twomey will carry Irelands hopes at the show.

Facing them will be 11 British riders, including the four-strong Whitaker clan of Michael, John, Robert and Ellen. Nick Skelton will give home crowds the chance to see the great Arko in action, while Robert Smith looks in good form going into the show. The others carrying British hopes are William Funnell, Tim Stockdale, Mark Armstrong, Ben Maher and Guy Williams.

Anky takes centre stage

World, European and Olympic Dressage Champion Anky van Grunsven will give an insight into her training system with her eight-year-old stallion Painted Black before the kr at Olympia on Wednesday night.

Anky will be the one to beat this year in the Berkeley Group/H&H World Cup qualifier. However, Ankys Dutch pupil, Edward Gal, is certainly capable of beating his trainer. German Olympic gold medalist Isabell Werth is also on fantastic form, while Finland’s Kyra Kyrklund is always one to watch.

British national champion Laura Bechtolsheimer, 20, will be leading the British challenge with Douglas Dorsey. Emma Hindle will be making her first appearance in Britain with her new ride Lancet and team members Fiona Bigwood and Wayne Channon will also be in action. Henriette Andersen is to contest her first World Cup qualifier at Olympia.

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    Doggies bag the spoils

    Man’s best friend takes centre stage in the finals of three dog agility championships. Sponsored by the Kennel Club, the overall agility stakes final invariably goes to a Collie. But other breeds arent forgotten. Sundays mini final is for dogs measuring less than 15in at the withers, while the ABC (anything but a Collie) final gives breeds you would not normally associate with agility the chance to shine.

    French dressing

    This years headline display brings a Gallic flavour to Olympia when 12 members of the Garde Republicaine perform a display to music on their chestnut horses. This working regiment of the gendarmerie has more than 400 horses at its Paris base. The Garde is responsible for security and also provides a guard for the French president and during state visits.

    Soldiering on

    Youve followed them on TV in The Queens Cavalry and you now have the chance to see the Household Cavalrys musical ride. Sixteen troopers on black horses; four state trumpeters riding greys, and a magnificent drum horse will appear at each performance. Look out for horses lying down while the rest of the ride performs around them.

    Going native

    Showing aficionados will arrive in force for Mondays NPS Baileys Horse Feeds Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship. Welsh section Ds have the greatest representation, with seven through to this prestigious competition. But all finalists have faced strong opposition to make it this far and any one would make a worthy champion. And why not get there early and watch the preliminary judging, which starts at 11am?

    National heroes

    The smallest racehorses in the game will be on display in the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Grand National. The finalists qualify during the year, when they also do their bit for charity. The series has raised 250,000 so far and this years chosen beneficiary is Londons Great Ormond Street Hospital.

    Shoppers paradise

    There is more chance than ever to shop till you drop this year. More than 200 tradestands mean that you wont miss out on that last-minute Christmas gift. The entrance to the shopping village is next to the champagne bar on the gallery level of the Grand Hall. And for those who want to shop without visiting the show, there is a special entry fee of 5.

    Visit Horse & Hound

    Don’t forget to take time out to visit the Horse & Hound stand. It’s the ideal opportunity for you to take out a subscription to Horse & Hound, either for yourself or as a perfect Christmas present for a friend. Savings of up to 35% are available on the stand and all show subscribers will take home a Horse & Hound fleece absolutely free. As well as fabulous subscription offers on Horse & Hound, HORSE and Eventing magazine, we’ve got loads of competition prizes, including 500 of Harry Hall gear, a Funnell range jacket, bridles, horse treats and lots more. Come and visit the team on stand GH4 from Tuesday onwards.

    Getting to Olympia

    Olympia is easily accessible by public transport. Kensington Olympia mainline and underground station is adjacent to the Grand Hall. Direct mainline services run from Clapham Junction, Gatwick, Watford and Willesden Junction. For Underground services take the District line via Earls Court.

    Online and TV treats

    Those who cannot make it to the show are spoiled for choice by the amount of TV on offer, in addition to Horse & Hound Online’s daily coverage of all the action. Clare Balding will host BBC’s Sunday Grandstand from Olympia and coverage includes the World Cup qualifier, plus highlights of the Masters and puissance. Eurosport, meanwhile, alternates between live and edited coverage, beginning on 14 December with highlights of the World Cup dressage.

  • Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s special Olympia preview issue, on sale now, which includes interviews with top riders and producers, as well as a guide to everything you need to know about the show

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