Olympic stars to go head-to-head in Hickstead eventers’ challenge

  • Some of the world’s top event riders will line up for the Amlin Plus eventers’ challenge at the Royal International Horse Show next week (28 July), days before heading to Rio to compete in the Olympics.

    Pippa Funnell, who had a late call-up to the British team, will ride the nine-year-old three-star mare Billy Cuckoo in the challenge, which incorporates knock-down and solid fences and a trip up and down the famous Derby bank.

    Mark Todd will compete his 2011 Badminton winner NZB Land Vision while his compatriot and Olympic travelling reserve Tim Price will be giving his best shot on three-star horse Xavier Faer.

    Great Britain’s Rio travelling reserve Tina Cook rides her four-star mount Star Witness while Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal will be hoping for a good run before heading to Brazil.

    Crowd favourite Ben Hobday will be aiming to put on a good show for fans riding much-loved four-star campaigner Mulry’s Error, who has not been seen in public since jumping double clear at Badminton this spring.

    Elizabeth (Esib) Power of Ireland is sure to set off favourite in this class, with strong previous form, riding Doonaveeragh O One who is something of a specialist in this type of class.

    The former event horse finished third in the eventing grand prix with Esib’s brother and Grand National-winning jockey Robbie in 2012 and then won the British Speed Derby in 2013.

    Last year Esib was second to Andrew Nicolson, who was riding Cilnabradden Evo a few days before their serious fall at Gatcombe Horse Trials.

    Esib and Doonaveeragh O One have enjoyed almost perfect preparation for this year’s challenge by notching 10th place in last month’s Hickstead Derby.

    Other riders include last year’s third placed Tom McEwen with Diesel, on whom he became national under-25 champion at Bramham in 2013, his girlfriend Holly Woodhead with the impressive jumper Fernhill Facetime and Laura Collett with last year’s World seven-year-old champion Mr Bass.

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    Also riding will be Jeanette Brakewell, who recently made a comeback following a fall at Badminton, Australia’s Paul Tapner and Ireland’s Joseph Murphy.

    The class will be televised on Hickstead TV.

    Read the full preview of the Royal International Horse Show in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on 28 July

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