Chestnuts Reign at Royal Windsor Horse Show
written by Roberta Coll
Following a disappointing start to the 2016 Royal Windsor Horse Show, competitors, organisers and spectators didn’t allow the weather to dampen their spirits for this years extra special event. Four days of fun-filled action from a selection of equestrian disciplines, displays and demonstrations led to a final spectacular, held on the Sunday evening, to celebrate The Queen’s 90th Birthday.
The remaining days of competition, held throughout the Royal Windsor Estate, demonstrated equestrian action at its very best. Riders from around the world gathered to compete not only for top prize money but also for the chance to grace the Royal Windsor turf, in the only event that opens the grounds to the public each year.
Kent Farrington Flies High At Royal Windsor Horse Show
Americas own Kent Farrington, partnered his unstoppable chestnut gelding, Creedance, to dominate two of the CSI**** classes during the four day spectacular. Competing among some of the Worlds most known, and loved, showjumpers Farrington demonstrated that it’s not only the water between America and the UK that keeps him poles apart from other renowned showjumping names.
CSI4* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup, Saturday
Farrington’s first triumph, came in the Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup, held on Saturday afternoon in the Castle arena. A total of 35 riders competed in the first round of jumping, which included some of the worlds best. Irish favourite Shane Breen joined Dermott Lennon and Billy Twomey to form a strong Irish presence, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be as all three failed to make the jump off.
Eight horses in total joined an exhilarating jump off, in which we saw Great Britain’s Joe Davison out first to produce a beautiful clear round, setting an impressionable time of 36.79. However Farrington was there to prove exactly why he’s ranked number six in the world, as he destroyed Davison’s round with an impressive time of 31.86. Canada’s Tiffany Foster finished in second place, with just over a seconds time difference separating her from the winner. Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci, riding Casallo Z, was hot on Foster’s tail finishing, less than one tenth of a second behind, in third. Farrington rode into Sunday comfortably with a rather tidy sum of 13,750 euro’s in his back pocket.
CSI4* – Grand Prix for The Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy, Sunday
The Grand Prix was held during the Sunday afternoon’s glorious sunshine. From a starting field of 33, only 14 went clear to make it through into the jump off. Spectators saw four GBR riders make it through to the final round: John Whitaker, Tim Stockdale, Laura Renwick and Yazmin Pinchin. An early lead was established by Canada’s Tiffany Foster who, riding Ben Mahers former Olympic Gold medal winning ride Tripple X III, was second to go and clung to the lead for almost half of the jump off. Fosters lead was then overthrown by the force that is Farrington on board Creedance. British challenger to Farrington’s show jumping superiority, Whitaker, failed to knock the American rider from his familiar spot at the top of the podium.
John who was riding Argento, missed out on taking the Grand Prix title by a crucial second. “Up to the planks [halfway around the track] I knew I was quicker,” said John, who praised Royal Windsor Horse Shows move to four-star jumping. “Then he spooked at something. I don’t know what it was, so I ended up doing two or three strides more than Kent.” Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci also gained a foot perfect double clear aboard Casallo Z, however it was not fast enough to challenge the leaders meaning he had to settle for third place.
Another example of a chestnut gelding who has enjoyed triumph at Royal Windsor is Heliodor Hybris who is ridden by Great Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick. Renwick and the 2007 gelding, owned by Mr. Colin Bates, took the 1m45 Falcon Stakes on the Saturday. Lorenzo De Luca, was the early leader producing a solid time to beat of 28.03. Renwick, was the final competitor and she embodied the cliché: last but not least, with a superb clear which sliced a second of the leaders time relegating De Luca into second.
Manama Speed Stakes
The Windsor crowd welcomed Guy William’s home win, as he maintained his reputation as an equestrian speed demon in the Manama Speed stakes. Williams achieved an immaculate clear on yet another chestnut gelding, Casper De Muze, in a blazing time of 29.64. All attempts to exceed this demonstration of speed and skill, where in vain. Williams remained in poll position, to take the class from the American contender, Laura Kraut, in second and fellow Brit, Joseph Davison, son of Royal Windsor Horse Show Dressage winner, Richard Davison, came in a respectable third.
Service Team Jumping
Her Majesty The Queen’s Challenge Cup For Service Team Jumping was claimed by The Household Cavalry Team B with the only faultless tally at the end of two rounds. The trio of riders included Major Housby-Skeggs (Hightide), Corporal of the Horse Lacey (Nudger) and Captain Chambers (Freeway).
With his magnificent four-in-hand warmbloods, reigning World Champion, Boyd Exell from Australia, drove to victory in the final phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix at Royal Windsor, reclaiming the win that has been his six times before.
“We’ve been second for the last two years,” smiled a relieved Exell. “I lost it in the cones last year and I really did not want to do that again.” He added, “I’ve been trying out new combinations of horses in recent years but these ones have really gone well for me. They got me out of trouble in obstacle seven yesterday when we almost took a wrong turn.”
Exell was in first place as the final phase began, but the pressure mounted as the top drivers began recording double clear rounds. Four time World Champion, Ijsbrand Chardon was less than one cones penalty behind Exell and is usually exemplary in this section. However, uncharacteristically, he had two balls down which dropped him behind fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde ,and German driver, Christoph Sandmann, and gave the current World Champion a bit of breathing space. He didn’t need it – he drove a sure and clean double clear to take his seventh Royal Windsor win.
Today’s cones course was designed by experienced course designer, Richard Nicolls from the USA, and was described by competitors as ‘classic Nicolls’.
“They know that I design course that are flowing but technical,” he said. “There are changes of rein and various options but I don’t like mad dashes across the arena or a course that constantly doubles back on itself. It’s better for the drivers if the course flows and it is better for spectators too.”
Pony four-in-hands provided an even more nail-biting finale. Yesterday’s marathon winner, Germany’s Michael Bugener, lying in third place overall attacked the course with vigour; it earned him a round that was clear on time but at the expense of 12 penalty points. In second place at this stage, Jan de Boer from the Netherlands, drove confidently and steadily, also making the time but picking up just 3 penalties. In the lead, Vilmos Jambor jr from Hungary, drove with some caution – he dropped behind on time, but more punishingly accrued 9 penalties. Jan de Boer and his Welsh Section As, therefore, claimed the win at Royal Windsor for the sixth time with Bugener and Jambor jr, both competing for the first time here, taking second and third.
“I’m particularly pleased with the new pony I have in the wheel,” said the delighted Dutchman, who last won here two years ago. “I felt I really had to look after him in the marathon, particularly in the first obstacles, as he is still inexperienced.”
In the Nations Cup competition, the Netherlands – Ijsbrand Chardon, Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman – never looked like relinquishing the first place they have held since the first day. Germany – Rainer Duen, Marieke Harm and Christoph Sandmann – too, retained their second position throughout but Belgium – Dries Degrieck and Edouard Simonet – overtook Australia for third place.
The prolific hunter classes in the Frogmore arena at the Royal Windsor horse show, brought success for the 18-year-old veteran grey gelding, Carnsdale Casper. Owned by the Wrennal family, the veteran was ridden beautifully by 12-year-old Katie Wrennal, to win the 143cm category. Katie completed one of only two clear rounds over the testing course. Another senior success story was the 16-year-old CJ’s Tonto, ridden by Finn Muirhead and owned by Mrs Sarah Muirhead, who claimed the 133cm class. The 153cm Working hunter class was won by Carnsdale Vanity fair, ridden by Sophie Lawes and owned by J.Skillman. The highly respected show pony title went to Yorkshire based combination Georgina Holmes and her 148cm winner Wilderness Early Bird.
The youngest winner of the day was Toby Johnstone, who took the BSPS Heritage Mountain & Moorland Open Lead Rein Class riding Pumphill Fandango.
There was a fantastic array of native breeds on display at Royal Windsor Horse Show this year. The top spot went to Newbury based Hannah Horton with Lady Huntingdon’s striking Connemara Slieve Bloom Jill, this was her début Royal Windsor native title. At the other end of the age range, Angela Pallet’s amazing 18-year-old Welsh Section B gelding Waitwith Westwind romped to victory in his working hunter pony class and stood reserve champion.
Endurance at the Royal Windsor Horse Show only started in 2013 however this year it gained a strong field of 52 competitors, consisting of 13 different nations, all tackling the Windsor Great Park course. The gruelling 120km International endurance course was completed with a winning time of 04.41.27, by Saif Ahmed Al Mozroui of the UAE riding the chestnut gelding Ramaah. Coming in six minutes short of the winner, Mohammed Adbulsamad from Bahrain riding Derrom Galiem completed the four loops of Windsor Great Park in 04.47.06 and in third also from the UAE came Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum on Intisaar finishing with an admirable effort of 04.47.07.
Royal Birthday Celebrations
The Royal Windsor Horse Show 2016, was a particular momentous occasion as 1,500 performers and 900 horses; together with an audience of 6,000 enthusiastic party goers gathered to celebrate, Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday.
The two-hour extravaganza took place in the private grounds of Windsor castle, in a purpose-built arena, which provided a stunning backdrop for the illuminated and majestic Windsor castle. The very best equestrian talent from all over the world was showcased to entertain her Majesty, as we revisited her ninety years through music. Spectacular performances from Global stars such as Gary Barlow, Shirley Bassey and Kylie Minogue, enabled us to think back to significant events in her rule such as; her Coronation, marriage and her reign through world war two.
Ant and Dec guided us through the celebrations, as we saw master class performances from the likes of world famous French horse whisperer, Jean Francois Pignon. Pignon effortlessly worked in harmony with ten beautiful loose horses and his adorable grey shetland, who stole the hearts of all little girls (and big girls) of the nation! The rare breed of Karabakh horses from Azerbaijan kept the audiences enthralled with their scintillating performance of adrenalin filled equestrian stunts.
The Queens passion for horses was highlighted with the parade of her own animals which included her talented racehorses, including gold cup winning Estimate, followed by, at the other end of the scale, her beloved highland and fell ponies. No stone was left un-turned as other four legged friends such as dogs and even a goat were included in the parade. The Queens family where also in attendance, the Princess Royal and the Queens granddaughter Zara Phillips both rode as part of the display, Zara astride her gold medallist eventer Toytown. Shirley Bassey closed the celebrations with a sparkling rendition of her hit “Diamonds are forever”, which was perfect for a birthday bonanza fit for a Queen!