A prize fund of £210,000 has attarcted some of the best show jumping stars from around Europe to the first Belfast Indoor International Horse Show, while a programme of fantastic displays is set to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
Riders competing for the significant prize money on offer will include world champion Dermott Lennon, British number one Robert Smith, John, Michael and Robert Whitaker, former European champions Peter Charles and Jessica Kurten, Germany’s Franke Sloothak, Belgium’s Jos Lansink and Ludo Philipaerts and Markus Fuchs and Beat Mandli from Switzerland.
As well as watching top flight show jumpers in action, spectators can look forward to the breathtaking sight of Jean-Francois Pignon (pictured) demonstrating his almost uncanny relationship and control of riderless and unharnessed horses. Other displays at the show will include the Naprous stunt riding family, the Irish Shetland Grand National and the jumping skills of the Flying Frenchmen — sometimes billed as human horses.
For organiser Theresa McKenna, the show is a dream come true. “It has been something I wanted to do for a long time, and has taken me three years to set up,” she says. “It will put Ireland well and truly back on the equestrian map and give us something to be very proud of.”
The show’s top class show jumping, which includes puissance, six bar, accumulator and an international grand prix classes, as well as some lighter moments. Martel Grand National winning rider Barry Gerrity with previous winners Paul Carberry and Ruby Walsh will be among the jockeys pairing with show jumping stars for the Odyssey Jockey Chase Pairs Relay on Friday.
The show, which will run from 27-30 November, is being staged at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and special rates and discounts will be available to schools for the Friday afternoon’s performance.
“We want to do everything we can to encourage children and young people to take an interest in showjumping and equestrian events generally,” says Theresa. “One performance dedicated to schools in and around Belfast seemed to be a good way of doing it.”
For ticket bookings call the Odyssey box office (tel: 028 9073 9074) or the Ticket Master 24-hour hotline (tel: 0870 243 4455).
For more information about the show visit: www.belfasthorseshow.com