The countdown to Christmas is on! For most equine enthusiasts, December isn’t only about counting down the days until Santa visits but also to eagerly await Olympia, The London International Horse Show. The seven day show is a firm favourite for all of us at RED MILLS. The schedule features FEI World Cup qualifiers in showjumping, dressage and carriage driving along with top class competitions and for many, the last opportunity to buy the perfect Christmas gift.
This year’s show has kept spectators on the edge of their seats with down to the wire results which have included some wonderful rounds by our RED MILLS Ambassadors. On Thursday, Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker cleared the seven foot one inch Cayenne Puissance Wall to split the coveted prize with 18 year old Christopher Megahey and Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier.
Just the week before Olympia, we met with Holly in her Wymeswold Stables, Fox Covert Farm and it was clear that her eyes were on claiming another Puissance win after her victory at HOYS in October. Speaking to FEI TV after her victory she said; “It’s fantastic, all my friends are here to watch. I tried to treat it as a normal show, but it’s just got such an amazing atmosphere. The first three rounds didn’t actually go that well, but then I managed to see a forward stride in the fourth and he jumped brilliantly.
Another highlight was Darragh Kenny claiming the Snowflake Stakes riding Fixdesign Funke Van ’t Heike. The penultimate rider of the class managed to catch long-time leader Malin Baryard-Johnsson’s time with H&M Second Chance. The only sub 50second clear round of the class secured Kenny’s victory with a time of 49.86. After the class Kenny praised his competition and the entire show at Olympia. “Malin has a very nice horse, but my horse is a little bit more experienced, which enabled me to push and beat the time,” said Darragh, who spilts his time between the USA and Europe. “It’s a show I have always wanted to complete at and it is just amazing. It certainly is the best indoor show.”
As the weekend progressed, it was time for Hunxe based Wexford native Bertram Allen and High Valley to have the limelight in the Christmas Masters. This class includes the top seven riders from Olympia’s leading riders table, before each round each rider selects a fence to increase in height. “It’s a unique class, it gets really, really big in the end” Bertram commented after his win. “It was very competitive, normally if you get to five rounds you have nearly won but there was still three in the jump-off today so it was really exciting. It’s hard tactics being in the middle of the jump-off. Laura (Renwick) had one down so I didn’t know how fast to go with Malin (Baryard-Johnsson) coming after, but thankfully I was just fast enough today.
The wins kept coming for our Ambassadors as the show continued, there was an electric atmosphere for Sunday’s FEI World Cup Showjumping Qualifier with all eyes on the 13 riders that faced into the two round event. The class held everyone’s attention as the Kelvin Bywater designed course challenged each horse and rider combination. It was Team GB’s Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady that were victorious in a very hotly contested line up including Ben Maher, Nicola Philippaerts and Laura Kraut. The RED MILLS Ambassador revealed his sights are now on the FEI World Cup final, “I don’t very often, because there’s such a full calendar, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong team of horses, some of which are back from injury now – including Hello Sanctos and Hello M’Lady.”
Monday’s finale was the Holly Speed Stakes where Kenny and Fixdesign Funke Van ‘t Heike once again stole the spotlight and claimed the first place position. The 11 year old mare blitzed the course with ease in 46.78 seconds leaving Action Breaker and William Funnel in second place.
After the Kenny’s second win at Olympia, just one day before he returns to his US base, he spoke about his result and plans for Fixdesign Funke Van ’t Heike, “The week has gone really well. Will was really fast, but my mare has a really big stride, so in two places I could do one less stride than him, which really helped. I think it is probably the last time I am going to ride her. Normally, she goes back to her owner at this time, so it was nice to finish up in a really good way.”
As the curtains closed on another wonderful Olympia, we would like to wish all our riders and customers a Happy Christmas and the very best for 2017. We will be eagerly awaiting some more great results and up and coming stars.
- FEI World Cup
- International Showjumping