No fewer than five Olympic gold medallists will be competing in the international show jumping classes at Royal Windsor Horse Show (11 – 15 May) to kick start a summer where all eyes look ahead to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), reigning World and European Champion, heads a stellar line up, which also sees fellow Olympic individual gold medallist Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) go head-to-head with the likes of Peter Charles (GBR), Beezie Madden (USA) and Laura Kraut (USA) all of whom have been part of victorious Olympic teams. Kent Farrington (USA), currently ranked number six in the world, will also be representing a strong USA contingent, which includes three of the top 30 riders in the world.
The competition is set to be fierce as over 37 world class riders look to impress the Olympic selectors on the final stretch of the road to Rio. Home favourites, including John and Robert Whitaker, William Funnel and Laura Renwick are sure to set the crowd alight as they compete in six international 4* classes over three days of competition, which starts on Friday 13th May and culminates with the Grand Prix for the Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy on Sunday 15th May.
The calibre of entries reflects the new augmented status of the show jumping at Royal Windsor Horse Show, as for the first time, the jumping in the private grounds of Windsor Castle will be of CSI 4* quality. Competitors are travelling in from far and wide, with representatives from 13 countries competing for over £220,000 total prize money during the three days.
Similarly, the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix has also been upgraded to a CAIO4* World Cup Qualifier meaning that drivers who gain World Cup points, can earn five bonus points towards the hotly contested FEI World Cup™ Driving Qualification for the 2016-2017 indoor World Cup season.
This added incentive has lured the world’s top four-in-hand drivers from eight nations, who will each showcase their skills in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix. A CAIO4* and World Cup Qualifier, it is one of the year’s earliest, but undoubtedly the most prestigious, of the international competitions. Among the 29 competitors from eight nations are the reigning world outdoor gold, silver and bronze medallists - Boyd Exell (AUS), Chester Weber (USA) and Theo Timmerman (NED). All return to Royal Windsor in a bid to claim or reclaim this coveted title.
All the members of WEG 2014’s gold medal winning team from the Netherlands – current World Champion, Ijsbrand Chardon, and Koos de Ronde, also feature in the line-up. Six times Royal Windsor winner, Chardon remains fiercely competitive, combining almost unrivalled experience with cutting edge driving precision. From Germany comes a member of the silver medal winning team at WEG, Christoph Sandmann whose daughter, Anna - a groom for her father at WEG - will make her international debut driving a horse four-in-hand here.
A strong home team includes the legendary George Bowman senior - a serial Royal Windsor winner - and one of his sons, Barnaby. Among others, they are joined by the Bassett sisters, Karen and Pippa and leading light of the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Team, Daniel Naprous, who represented GB at the World Cup Qualifier at the London International Horse Show at Olympia last Christmas.
Pony four-in-hand drivers from six nations will also compete in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix in a CIA3*. From the Netherlands comes a 2015 World Pony Championships team gold medallist, Jan de Boer, while the home nation representative is Sara Howe - a member of GB’s 2015 bronze medal winning team.
General entry to Royal Windsor Horse Show is free of charge on Wednesday 11th May, and range from £12 to £25 for the other days. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased on www.rwhs.co.uk or via the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0) 121 796 6290 internationally. Or locally at Windsor Information Centre either over the counter or by telephoning +44 (0) 1753 743900.