A stellar line-up of the world’s best Dressage and Driving competitors has been announced for Olympia, The London International Horse Show, taking place from 12-18 December 2017.
Adding to this year’s spectacular Show will be a world-class selection of riders contesting the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music, supported by Horse & Hound, taking place on the Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 December respectively.
Contending for the title and making a welcomed first appearance at the Show, Swedish Olympian and current leader of the FEI World CupTM Western League, Patrik Kittel, a long-standing Grand Prix rider with an equally long list of achievements to his name. Kittel will be competing aboard Delaunay Old, who together took team bronze at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg.
The 2016 Irish Rider of the Year and holder of Ireland’s highest ever Grand Prix score, Judy Reynolds (Vancouver K) is another who will be gunning for glory. Certain to give Reynolds a run for her money is renowned Dutch rider, Edward Gal, triple gold medallist at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games™, the first rider to claim all three available medals. Gal will be pulling out all the stops aboard the young stallion Glock’s Zonik.
Making her Olympia debut will be Madeleine Witte-Vrees riding the Dutch-bred stallion Cennin, who together represented the Dutch team for the 2017 Europeans in Gothenburg and were selected as reserves for the 2016 Olympic team. The pair have also claimed several Grand Prix Freestyle victories, including in Roosendaal, Rotterdam and Mallorca. Adding to the Dutch challenge and returning to Olympia for the third time will be Katja Gevers with Thriller, a combination that are into their seventh season of Grand Prix.
Flying the flag for the home-side will be 2017 British Dressage National Champion Hayley Watson-Greaves (Rubin’s Nite), Emile Faurie (Delatio) Team GB representative at a staggering six European Championships, three World Equestrian Games™ and two Olympic Games, former British team medallist Gareth Hughes (Don Carissimo) returning after a five-year absence from the Show, and Lara Butler (Rubin Al Asad), reserve for the 2016 Olympic team.
The strong home contingent also includes four-time British Olympian Richard Davison, who has been at the forefront of international dressage for over three decades. Fresh from victory in the Grand Prix at CDI Roosendaal at the end of November with the homebred Bubblingh, Davison will be in confident spirits as he comes up against some of the best horse and rider combinations in the world. The British quintet has much opposition however and the Grand Prix promises to be a close and exciting competition.
The UK’s largest indoor horse show is also set to welcome top international four-in-hand drivers for the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg, presented by Dodson & Horrell. Their first encounter will be on Thursday afternoon during Olympia’s Extreme Driving competition, familiarising them with the arena and its highly-charged atmosphere. The first round of the FEI competition follows on Friday with the final starting in Saturday evening’s packed performance.
Reigning World Champion, both indoors and out, Boyd Exell, returns to compete with a wild card. With seven FEI World Cup™ titles to his name, including the 2016 and 2017 seasons, he is a regular contender and winner at the prestigious Show. Challenging Exell, and representing the home team, will be the notorious Dan Naprous, who will be wowing crowds with his supreme pace and agility.
Joining Naprous will be Ijsbrand Chardon, the most experienced, and multi-medalled of all the drivers in the starting line-up, having been at the top of the sport since the 1980s. Chardon is making a welcome return to Olympia Horse Show, after his absence in 2016. Fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde, who has shared the World and European Championship team gold medal winning rostrums with Chardon on eight separate occasions, will be giving Chardon a run for his money, having competed at the Show each year since the competition began.
This is a line-up not to be missed.