The Belfast International Horse Show is poised to entertain thousands of equestrian enthusiasts at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast this week (2 – 5 December), as top riders from around Europe head to Northern Ireland to compete for a slice of the £250,000 prize fund.

Invited British riders include Olympians Nick Skelton and Robert Smith, plus Michael, John and Robert Whitaker and host of other well-known names. The Hales’ stallion Arko is set to wow the crowds, while Portofino 63 and Marius Claudis will also be in action.

Jessica Kurten, Peter Charles, Billy Twomey and Conor Swail are likely to be among the home favourites, while international stars include Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and Frankie Sloothak, Swiss rider Markus Fuchs, Belgian Ludo Phillaeparts and Brazilian super star Rodrigo Pessoa.

A full range of international show jumping classes including the BMI Puissance, Chrysler & Jeep Classic and the prestigious International Grand Prix, which has the biggest prize fund of any grand prix in the UK and Ireland, will take place alongside top class entertainment for all the family.

Star billing goes to Jean-Francois Pignon, who will be making his last public performance in Europe at the show, as he has recently signed an exclusive five-year contract to perform in Las Vegas. Continuing the French flavour will be the Flying Frenchmen, who clear huge fences in a single bound without the aid of a horse, or a safety net!

The infamous Naprous family will be entertaining the crowds with their gun slinging and stunt riding, which is straight from the big screen and Hollywood, while at a more sedate pace, two leading dressage riders will charm the crowds with the grace and precision of the pas de deux.

Belfast is also hosting its first international dog agility competition, with 15 finalists from qualifying rounds competing for the title “Irish Open Champion”, and each performance will begin with a celebration of Irish dancing set to the haunting vocal charm of Gloria Mulhall and Liz Madden from the enchanting Irish group, Rua.

Tickets for the show are on sale now (tel: + 44 (0) 28 9073 9074) or visit: www.belfasthorseshow.com for more details.

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