Britain’s top three show jumpers — Nick Skelton, Robert Smith and Michael Whitaker — may miss HOYS after qualifying to compete for a record prize of $1million at the new Las Vegas Invitational on 14-15 October.
HOYS runs from 12-16 October and all three riders are long-standing supporters of the show. Michael Whitaker won the grand prix last year on his World Cup final runner-up, Portofino.
“HOYS has always been one of my favourites, but the chances are that I’ll make the trip to the USA. I can’t afford to turn down the chance to win $1m,” said Whitaker.
“I love HOYS, but competing is also my job and I have to win prize-money, so I’m sure that I’ll go to Las Vegas,” said Robert Smith, whose Athens ride, Mr Springfield, is back in work after injury. “I’m aiming both Mr Springfield and Kalusha at Las Vegas.”
Nick Skelton also has a difficult choice to make because John, Pat and Lisa Hales, owners of his horses, also sponsor at HOYS.
“The decision is down to Nick, but I don’t believe you should stop riders from trying to win a $1m prize,” said Lisa. “Of course, we’d love to see our horses at HOYS, but the riders have to earn a living and they don’t often get the chance to win that sort of money.”
The Las Vegas show comprises four classes at the Thomas and Mack Center, venue for the World Cup final earlier in the year. Another Briton, Olympia organiser Simon Brooks-Ward, is show director.
Among the riders are Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa, world number one Marcus Ehning, European Champion Marco Kutscher, and World Cup winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. There will also be a head-to-head between all the riders on the German and US Olympic teams from Athens.