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Countdown to RIHS

Top show jumpers from across the world are gearing up for the Royal International Horse Show (26 – 30 July) at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, East Sussex. The British show jumping team will take on seven nations in the Samsung Super League competition and on the final day the coveted Longines King George V Gold Cup and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup will be contested by a line up of world class riders.

As usual, the contest for the Longines King George V Gold Cup and the Bunn Leisure Queen Elizabeth II Cup is destined to be a major highlight. The women’s title, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, was originally named the Princess Elizabeth Cup when it was presented to the show in 1949 as Elizabeth II had not yet become Queen. Britain’s top 20 lady riders and a select few from overseas are invited to participate in the competition. Iris Kellett first won the Cup while Liz Edgar has won the title four times.

This year’s competition could be one of the most exciting yet. Ireland’s Marion Hughes, who won the title in 1995 and 1996, is among five previous winners who will be contesting the cup including 2001 winner Candice King from the USA, Angelique Hoorn who won for Holland in 2002, another American, Molly Ashe, who took the title in 2004 and last year’s winner, also from America, Laura Kraut.

British hopes will rest on Ellen Whitaker, looking to put the family name on the trophy for the first time since Veronique won in 1984. Helen Tredwell is also a firm British hopeful – she has been enjoying an exceptional summer season, winning the Harry Llewellyn Trophy for leading the International Trials list.

John and Michael Whitaker will be vying for another King George V triumph, both having won the title three times already. However, the brothers are both some way short of David Broome, who has won the title a record six times, on six different horses. The King George V Cup was first presented in 1911 when the show received royal patronage. The cup was designed by Paul Montford for Garrards the jewellers and is only seen by the public at the RIHS and the British Horse Society Annual General Meeting.

In addition to this, the world’s top eight will be contesting Britain’s leg of the Samsung Super League Nations Cup series. Although the World Equestrian Games (WEG) is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Britain’s Super League form has had both highs and lows so far this year. Derek Ricketts will choose his Hickstead team from John and Michael Whitaker, Tim Gredley, Robert Smith and DFS Derby hero William Funnell.

Dressage Divas

Olympic and World Champion Anky van Grunsven headlines the dressage, where an A-list team from the Netherlands will be up against Germany, Britain and France in the Nations Cup. Britain’s team includes Laura Bechtolsheimer (Douglas Dorsey), fellow WEG contender Wayne Channon (Lorenzo CH) and reserves Emile Faurie (Rascher Hopes) and Maria Eilberg (Two Sox). Other British talent includes Spencer Wilton, WEG team member Sandy Phillips and Henriette Andersen. Carl Hester will ride Da Vinci and Pro Set in the small tour. The action starts on Monday (24 July) and climaxes with Sunday’s kür. For information (tel: 01444 882150) or see www.dressageathickstead.com. Tickets ordered in advance include a free grandstand seat.

The show, which is the British Horse Society’s annual flagship event, includes a vast programme of showing and jumping classes, as well as the BHS-sponsored British Riding Clubs Team Jumping Championship and the Supreme Ridden Horse Championship.

Showing supremes

British Skewbald and Piebald Association members will have a complete day to themselves for showing classes this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show. Champions and reserves will parade in front of judges in Hickstead’s International Arena and a Supreme Champion will be crowned.

“The classes for coloured horses and ponies have been so popular that in three years the quality and numbers forward have reached the point where we could do nothing but give them their own day,” said showing director Roger Stack.

Six classes and the judging for the Champion horse and Champion pony will be held on Tuesday, July 26. The Champions and reserves will then stay at Hickstead overnight and go forward to the International Arena on Wednesday to find the Supreme Champion.

Hickstead will also be hosting an informal open forum in the Dick Saunders Pavilion at 5pm on Friday to discuss the challenges currently facing the showing community. There will be no agenda, minutes or off-limits subjects at the forum. “I hope people will see this as an opportunity to identify problems and hear the views of other people so we can get the best out of the sport — and our horses,” explains Hickstead showing director Roger Stack.

Eventing action

Eventing fans will fill the grandstand on Thursday for the annual Ford Ranger Eventing Grand Prix – a unique head-to-head between show jumpers and eventers. Five previous winners will all be contesting the coveted title including Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell and Mark Kyle who won the competition last year. But the eventing contingent are to be challenged by a world-class line-up of show jumpers, determined to confirm their superiority. Michael and brother John have both been invited again and Ben Maher, winner of this year’s Speed Derby and 2005 double Derbies winner has also accepted his invitation. The competition, which requires competitors to negotiate a series of show jumps and cross-country obstacles, has only been won by one show jumper in its eight-year history – Michael Whitaker in 2003.

Visit Horse & Hound

Don’t forget to visit Horse & Hound (trade stand number 75) where you can save up to 30% on a Horse & Hound subscription and get a free gift when you subscribe. You might even win a prize such as a Mirotec rug and leg wraps or a Harry Hall/ Masta voucher worth an impressive £500. Other prizes includes NET TEX products, a Brady bag, Spillers Treats, tubs of Biotal Equine Gold and bottles of Biotal BIOfresh and bags of SARACEN munchies.

Show Highlights

Thursday, 27 July
Eventing GP; Royal International chase; speed classic qual; YR ch; hunters; amateur riding horses

Friday, 28 July
Super League Nations Cup; international stakes; speed classic qual; 1.30m ch; working hunters; riding horses; amateur hunters; M&M WHP; Heritage M&M

Saturday, 29 July
Queen Elizabeth II Cup warm-up;
classic; speed classic; jnr speed grand prix; side-saddle concours d‘elegance; hacks; miniature horses; Pretty Polly ch; sml hunters; ridden Arab/PBA; double harness scurry

Sunday, 30 July
King George V Gold Cup; Queen Elizabeth II Cup; RC team jumping; Winston Churchill supreme ridden horse; Dick Saunders supreme ridden pony; cobs; show ponies; amateur hacks; amateur cobs; intermediates; mini ponies; WHP nursery stakes; working cobs; light trade/costers; Dorian Williams Trophy; horsemastership trophy

What it costs

There are various categories of ticket, ranging from general entrance to full members.

  • Car parking is £5 each day.
  • Wednesday tickets range from £5 child’s general entrance to £16 member’s.
  • The rest of the show costs £8-£28.
  • Well-behaved dogs are welcome, but must be kept on leads at all times. There is very little shade, so please do not leave dogs in cars.

    For more information please visit www.hickstead.co.uk

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