A “triple crown” of major classes is drawing a host of top-class showjumpers from around the world to Hickstead again this year.
The CHIO5* Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead, from July 29 to August 3, is not only a leg of showjumping’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, but it also hosts the famous Longines King George V Gold Cup. Both classes have a prize pool of €200,000. The third jewel in the crown of the event is the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup. This used to be a national championship for lady riders only, but in 2008 it was opened up to men and women. Since then, male riders have dominated in Saturday afternoon’s feature class, with the only ladies to win it in recent years being Laura Renwick in 2009 and Anna Edwards in 2010.
The event at the All England Jumping Course is the official show of The British Horse Society.
In the Nations Cup on August 1, the British team will be competing against Belgium, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands as they all bid to pick up qualifying points towards the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in October. They’ll face further opposition from the USA, France and Sweden, who have also elected to send teams to Hickstead.
Britain has not won the FEI Nations Cup since 2010, with Germany winning in 2011 and 2013, and Ireland victorious in 2012. The Royal International comes just a few weeks before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, so will no doubt prove a useful guide to form ahead of the championships.
Last year’s Longines King George V Gold Cup delivered a popular win for the British supporters. Almost a year to the day from his team gold medal success at London 2012, world number two Ben Maher jumped a double clear to win the King’s Cup on his former Olympic partner Tripple X III.
The international action begins on Thursday afternoon with the Bunn Leisure Trophy, which is a qualifier for the Longines King George V Gold Cup. The international classes will feature the highest ranked riders in Britain plus some of the very best competitors in the world; while a huge range of national showjumping classes will attract entries from around 900 riders and 1500 horses.
In the showing classes, about 1600 horses and ponies will arrive at Hickstead, having qualified for their respective classes at shows around the United Kingdom. The best of these will go through to their respective division championships, and the winners will go through to the final judging of the British Horse Society Supreme Horse and the Underwood Supreme Pony Championships, held on the Sunday.
Last year, riding pony champion Dance All Night became the first pony in Hickstead’s history to win the supreme title twice; this year her rider Samantha Elliott is hoping to recover from a broken arm in time to have a crack at winning a third supreme championship. Meanwhile, the 2013 supreme horse winner Pearly King continues to dominate in the show ring with rider Simon Charlesworth, recently winning the hack championship at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, and they will be bidding for further Hickstead success at this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show.
New showing classes at Hickstead this season include a Ponies (UK) mountain and moorland amateur class and an amateur maxi cob class, plus the two highest placed junior riders in each coloured horse and pony class will go through to a brand new championship. Showing riders will also benefit from a new all-weather gallop track in Jacksons Fencing Ring 5.
Ladies’ Day will once again be held on the Saturday of the show, and this year proceeds will go towards the charity Dreamflight. A team of ‘spotters’ will pick out the best-dressed guests and invite them into a special ringside enclosure. A celebrity judge will then pick out a winner and two runners-up from the top 10 finalists, with the winner receiving a two-night stay with dinner and spa treatments from the Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa in West Sussex.
For bookings, see www.hickstead.co.uk or call 01273 834315.