One of the feature showjumping classes at the London International Horse Show at Olympia, the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier takes place on Sunday 17 December at 2.35pm. Here we bring you the H&H bluffer’s guide to help you follow all the action — and perhaps impress your friends with your geek-like knowledge…
- The class is run over two rounds with the fences set at a maximum height of 1.60m making it one of the biggest competitions in the sport.
- Only the riders who jump clear in round one make it through to the second round against the clock.
- The winner receives over £32,000 in prize money. Not bad for an afternoon’s work.
What does it qualify for?
- The World Cup final, which was first held in 1979 and is now an annual event held in April each year.
- This year’s final takes place in Paris, France (10-15 April, 2018) with around 45 riders qualifying for the show.
- Riders can earn points at each of the World Cup qualifiers around the world with their seven best performances counting.
- Olympia is the eighth of the 13 qualifiers in the Western European League.
- Currently heading the Western European League is Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, just ahead of Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), Kevin Staut (FRA), Denis Lynch (IRL) and Mark McAuley (IRL). Robert Whitaker is the best-placed British rider in 13th.
History of the class
- There has been a World Cup qualifier at Olympia every year since the inaugural running in 1979 when Germany’s Gerd Wiltfang (Goldika) was the winner
- Robert Smith and Ludger Beerbaum are the most successful riders in the competition, having each won it a remarkable three times.
- Nick Skelton and John Whitaker are the only two riders to win the Olympia class back-to-back — Nick claimed victory in 1983 and 1984 on St James while John triumphed in 1998-1999 on Grannusch and Welham.
- Father and son from the Netherlands, Eric van der Vleuten and Maikel van der Vleuten won the competition four years apart, Eric in 2009 with Maikel claiming the title in 2013.
- Scott Brash won the class for the first time last year, beating his British team-mate (and 2011 victor) Ben Maher into second place.
Who is in the running for this year’s competition?
- Riders from 15 countries are expected to line up for Sunday’s competition.
- Past winners in this year’s field include Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS), Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), plus British hopes Robert Smith, Ben Maher, Scott Brash, John Whitaker and Michael Whitaker.
- Among the other big names hoping to bid for victory on Sunday are Simon Delestre (FRA), Kevin Staut (FRA), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), Steve Guerdat (SUI), Marcus Ehning (GER), William Whitaker (GBR), Bertram Allen (IRL) and Cian O’Connor (IRL).
Who will win?
Crystal ball anyone? But among the favourites will be Harrie Smolders (NED), European champion Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Laura Kraut (USA), all of whom are in flying form. But don’t dismiss the advantage of home soil for the British riders — it’s always a thrilling finale!
How can I watch it?
Nothing can beat the atmosphere and excitement of being ringside at Olympia, but if you can’t make it to London, the class will be broadcast live (1.30pm-4.35pm) on BBC Two, online and connected TV and via subscription channel FEI TV.
Don’t miss the full report from the World Cup — and the rest of the seven-day show — at horseandhound.co.uk and in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound (out Thursday 21 December)