Why watching YouTube videos helped Hickstead first-timer to 5* jumping success

  • The opening five-star showjumping class at the Longines Royal International Horse Show, the mammoth 82-starter Royal International vase against the clock, was won by Italian showjumper Francesco Turturiello riding the 11-year-old mare Happiness.

    This was the Milan-based rider’s first time jumping in Great Britain, let alone the iconic international arena at Hickstead, and he credited spending hours watching YouTube videos of action from the unique ring for his debut success.

    “This is my first time in my life jumping in Hickstead, first time jumping in England,” said Francesco. “So I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my horse felt amazing inside this amazing grass ring. So then I said,’OK, let’s go and try and win this’ and we did it.

    “For me to win here is amazing – I didn’t expect it,” he said. “Before I came here, I watched many, many YouTube videos from Hickstead and I thought ‘Oh my god’, maybe I can do this, maybe I can’t – but I’m lucky I have good horses, who have given me the opportunity to be here.”

    Complementing the underfoot conditions in Hickstead’s international arena after a deluge of rain, he said: “It’s been raining all night, but even after more than 60 riders in this class, the ground was just amazing, it’s perfect. I’ve been travelling and jumping everywhere, but this is something you don’t find anywhere else, it’s unbelievable. I’m very happy to be here.”

    Francesco Turturiello riding Happiness to win the Royal International Vase at the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead
    The Italian travelled to Hickstead from the Nations Cup show at Falsterbo, Sweden, via a stopover at Ashford Farm in Belgium, but he and his showjumper wife, who rides for the military, are based just outside Milan in Italy, where next month’s European Showjumping Championships are being held.

    “I’m on the longlist, but this show [the Nations Cup, which takes place on Friday] is very important. My coach will see this week how things go, maybe I have a small chance – I’ll try my best to get a spot there anyway, because that would be very special, just amazing with the home crowd,” said Francesco, 46. “It’s also 20 years since Italy has qualified for the Olympics, so for us this is a very important month for the Italian team.”

    Taking second place behind Francesco, just a second off the pace, was British showjumper Joe Whitaker riding his speedy mare Icaterina, while Guy Williams took third with Dalton D’Hoyo.

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