Nick Skelton and the stallion Arko III are on top of the world after heading the FEI’s overall 2004 points table for leading show jumping horse and rider combinations.
The German-bred Arko, who is owned jointly by new BSJA president John Hales, his wife, Pat, and daughter, Lisa, was consistency itself in 2004, finishing the season as the leading horse in the Samsung Super League Nations Cup series.
He began the year by taking the British Open title in Sheffield, before being placed in numerous international grands prix. The pair led the individual competition at the Athens Olympics going into the final round, finishing 11th overall.
Nick and Arko triumphed in the rankings by a slim margin from Athens silver medallists Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet Du Rouet. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Shutterfly) and her brother-in-law, current world number one rider Ludger Beerbaum (Goldfever), finished third and fourth.
There are three other Britons on the list. Michael Whitaker finished 15th on his HOYS grand prix winner, Portofino, Robert Smith was 18th on the horse he rode into fifth place in Athens, Mr Springfield, and Robert Whitaker topped the world’s young riders after ending up 32nd on Nicolette.
“It’s nice to end up number one and I’ll try to do it again this year,” says Nick. “It’s also good for the Hales, who have put so much into the sport and backed me all the way.”
Arko will shortly stand at stud in Germany. Nick will then aim him at the World Cup final and European Championships at San Patrignano, Italy, in July.
- This news article was first published in Horse & Hound (27 January, ’05)
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