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Britain’s best head for Belfast

Robert Smith (pictured), John Whitaker and Nick Skelton head the team of British raiders who are heading across the Irish sea to try and claim the lion’s share of the £210,000 purse at the first Belfast Indoor International Horse Show, in association with Envirocare, at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.

However, a strong contingent of Irish riders, including previous European champions Peter Charles and Jessica Kurten, plus successful Nation’s Cup riders Cian O‘Connor and Billy Twomey will be doing their best to defend Irish pride.

Britain is not the only threat though, as top riders from Germany, France and Switzerland, including world No.1 Markus Fuchs, will also be in action.

Visitors to the event can look forward to watching show jumping of the highest calibre as riders go head-to-head in a range of classes including puissance, six bar, accumulator, speed stakes and the Envirocare International Grand Prix.

The riders will also be doing their bit to raise money for charity during the show. Divided into teams of five, with each team captained by a TV presenter, riders will compete for a cash prize depending on which teams’ riders are most successful. The money will be donated to the team captain’s chosen charity.

Outstanding entertainment

Breaking up the serious show jumping action, the crowds will have plenty of entertainment ranging from the breathtaking Jean-Francois Pignon to the Odyssey Jockey Chase Pairs Relay, which will see top jockey pair with show jumpers in a high-speed relay event over fences.

Also combining speed and fences, but of somewhat smaller dimensions, will be the crowd pleasing Irish Shetland Grand National Racing, where these tiny members of the equine community show their agility and turn of speed over suitable sized steeplechase-type fences.

Other entertainment to look forward to includes the amazing stunt team, The Devil’s Horsemen, with an amazing mixture of Latin dancing and daring stunt riding, plus the Flying Frenchmen, who prove you don’t need to be on board a horse to jump fences of international show jumping dimensions.

The seven performances across the four days include a special “school’s performance” on Friday afternoon.

“We want to do everything we can to encourage children and young people to take an interest in show jumping and equestrian events generally,” said the show’s spokesperson. “One performance dedicated to schools in and around Belfast seemed to be a good way of doing it.”

  • Click here for the complete timetable.

    Tickets for some performances are still available, contact (tel: 028 9073 9074) or visit: www.odysseyarena.com

    For more information about the show visit www.belfasthorseshow.com

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