THREE of the four members of the gold-medal winning Olympic showjumping team will make up the British squad for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ of Great Britain, at Hickstead, West Sussex next week.
Scott Brash (Ursula XII), Peter Charles (Murka’s Odie de Frevent) and Ben Maher with his Olympic ride Tripple X III will line up for Britain for this prestigious team competition, held this Friday of the Longines Royal International Horse Show which runs from Tuesday until August 4.
The other squad members are William Funnell (Billy Congo) and William Whitaker (Fandango), with the final team of four to be announced before the day.
The home team will be hoping to repeat its success from Greenwich last summer, but will face stiff competition from teams from France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the Ukraine, the USA and last year’s winners Ireland. The teams are aiming to pick up points in order to qualify for the first ever Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona
Before the FEI Nations Cup action gets underway, there will be a celebration to mark one year since Britain’s Olympic success, with a group of Gamesmakers chosen to carry the flags for the riders’ parade. All Gamesmakers will be given free entry (including parking) to the showground on Friday 2 August, providing they wear their uniform and accreditation.
As well as contesting team honours in the FEI Nations Cup, top riders from around the world will battle it out to claim the Longines King George V Gold Cup, held on the final day of Hickstead’s six-day fixture. Set over a vast, technical and demanding course, this class offers a prize fund of €200,000 and remains one of the most coveted Grands Prix of all.
Our five Nations Cup squad members are due to take part, alongside some of the best known British riders in the sport – including Michael, John and Robert Whitaker, Laura Renwick, Guy Williams, Tim Stockdale, Joe Clayton, Robert Smith and this year’s Hickstead Derby hero, Phillip Miller.
The show gets underway on Tuesday with a day of national showjumping and showing classes. All of the showing classes are championships, where riders from around the country have worked hard to qualify.
There are championships for coloured horses and ponies, working hunters, show ponies, show hunter ponies, pure bred and part-bred arabs, hackneys, mountain and moorlands, hunters, riding horses, cobs, hacks, intermediates and miniature horses. Many of these champions will then progress to the final judging of The British Horse Society Supreme Horse and the Underhill Supreme Pony titles.
The action in the International Arena begins on Wednesday, with the culmination of several of British Showjumping’s Winter Finals.
The international classes begin on Thursday August 1, with the famous Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix. This class sees showjumpers and eventers go head to head over a course of coloured poles and solid cross-country jumps.
This year’s line-up includes Tina Cook, a member of the London 2012 silver medal-winning eventing team; Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell, eventing legend Mark Todd and four-time winner of the class Gary Parsonage.
Among the showjumpers are Ireland’s David Simpson, fourth in last month’s Hickstead Derby, and Michael Lonsdale, winner of the HOYS Puissance in 2012. Olympic rider Caroline Powell will be competing on Lenamore, who retired from top-level eventing earlier this year, while showjumper Trevor Breen will compete on Noble Bestman, normally the ride of eventer Laura Collett (who was injured in a cross-country fall earlier this month).
The Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Sky Sports Speed Classic will form the showjumping highlights of the Saturday, which is also Hickstead’s Ladies’ Day, where the best dressed visitors have the chance to win great prizes.
General admission tickets start from just £16 per adult and £8 for children, while a huge range of hospitality options are also available, including private boxes, ringside lodges, the exclusive 120-seater Members’ Restaurant, the al fresco Ringside Restaurant and the Beethoven Suite, found at the top of the Members’ Grandstand. Tickets are also available on the gate.
Sky Sports will once again be providing comprehensive daily coverage of the action from Thursday to Sunday. Viewers can also purchase a day pass to watch Sky Sports online for just £9.99 for 24 hours – visit http://www.nowtv.com/sports to sign up.
To book tickets go to www.hickstead.co.uk or call 01273 834315.