Australian event rider Paul Tapner returns to Hickstead next week with the aim of becoming the first person to win the new format MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge three times in a row.
Paul was victorious in both 2017 and 2018 with the grey Bonza Ring of Rouges, and he hopes he can make it third time lucky with another victory in the Longines International Arena on Thursday July 25.
But there will be plenty of rivals hoping to bring Paul’s winning streak to an end, including talented Gemma Tattersall, based locally in West Sussex. Gemma was part of Britain’s gold medal-winning team at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games.
She rides Chico Bella P, a mare who has been consistently placed on the Event Rider Masters series.
Other big names taking part in the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge include New Zealand’s Lucy Jackson, Ireland’s Joseph Murphy and Brits Alex Bragg, Jeanette Brakewell, Matthew Wright and Nick Gauntlett.
Last year’s runner up Georgie Strang returns for another crack at the title, having finished second to Paul 12 months ago with Cooley Earl.
“The Thursday of the Longines Royal International Horse Show is always an exciting day as we welcome the event riders to Hickstead,” says Lizzie Bunn, Director of the All England Jumping Course.
“We can’t wait to see if Paul Tapner can set a new record, having become the first back-to-back winner of this class already. He was a man on a mission last year, and we’re expecting him to be even quicker this year!”
Tickets for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (23-28 July) are on sale now from www.hickstead.co.uk
The MS Amlin Eventers Challenge course has 18 fences, including a number of Hickstead’s famous obstacles such as the Devil’s Dyke, the Road Crossing, the less steep side of the Al Shira’aa Bank and the MS Amlin Irish Bank. Horses also have to jump through the Al Shira’aa Mirage – the lake in the centre of the Longines International Arena – and the course finishes with the Privet Oxer.
Hickstead’s original Eventing Grand Prix was the first of its kind – it was the brainchild of Douglas Bunn, showjumper Paul Schockemöhle and event rider Robert Lemieux. Since then it has inspired countless other similar classes around the world.
The format originally included a dressage test, but this was dropped after a couple of years to make it more of a level playing field. Big names to win the class included Michael Whitaker, Trevor Breen, Andrew Nicholson, Pippa Funnell and Lucinda Fredericks.
A change in TV scheduling meant the class ended in 2014, but it was brought back by popular demand as the MS Amlin Eventers’ Challenge in 2015. The new format is open to event riders only, and is held within the Longines International Arena, with the course staying the same year on year.