It is billed as the the World’s Greatest Equestrian Christmas Party, and this week's Olympia Horse Show in London has something for every horse sport fan. From FEI Dressage to Driving World Cups, pony races, six bar, dog jumping, an exhibitors village, international riding displays and a Longines FEI Jumping World Cup, the year-end equestrian extravaganza is a holiday tradition in England.
Of course, one of the perennial highlights of the week is the 1.60m World Cup show jumping qualifier for Western Europe, scheduled to start this year at 13:35 local time on Saturday, December 22. London is the eighth European qualifier after Oslo, Helsinki, Verona, Lyon, Stuttgart, Madrid and La Coruña, with 13 in total across the continent and a rider’s seven best results counting.
Eighteen riders from Europe can earn for a spot for next spring’s World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a victory worth 20 points and 40 points usually enough to qualify. With London and five other legs (Mechelen, Belgium, Basel, Leipzig, Amsterdam and Bordeaux) still to come, three riders have already reached or passed the 40-point threshold: Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Germany’s Daniel Deusser. Several others are close, including (with 35 points) Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, who lives in Europe and can make it into the Final as an extra if she is among the top 18 finishers in the region. Tops-Alexander is riding a wave of momentum at the moment, having won not only the previous World Cup qualifier in Spain, but also the Longines Masters of Paris Grand Prix and this past weekend’s Super Grand Prix in Prague.
As usual, Great Britain will be well-represented on home soil, with Scott Brash, Ben Maher, Laura Renwick, and Michael, Robert and William Whitaker among the large British contingent on hand. Three Irish riders – Shane Breen, Richard Howley and Darragh Kenny – are also entered alongside show jumping stars like Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca, Germany’s Deusser and Switzerland’s Guerdat. For the full list of entries, see here.
And for a glimpse of the unbridled Shetland Pony Grand National with its riders and ponies hurdling around the arena, see here. For the full schedule of events this week, which also include a medal parade for British equestrian athletes, click here. And for information on how to watch Olympia live, see here and here.