It’s starting to turn into a tradition for the AD and I to go to Olympia every year for the Horse Show – and it’s been consistently good. I leave arranging tickets until far too late to get into the audience for the high-demand Puissance, but the Wednesday evening never fails to excite and entertain.
It opens with an Extreme Carriage Driving Competition – a glorious mix of high speeds, tight corners, gates no wider than the carriages, and something akin to reckless bravery by all involved.
Time to move out of the way
Second on the programme is the Kennel Club Dog Agility. This is not quite as crazy as the carriage driving, but fun to watch nonetheless.
Jumpin’ Bearded Collie
The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art make two appearances in the evening, bringing a needed reduction in tempo each time. The skill, control and co-ordination involved is wonderful to behold.
Acting as an interstitial between the two Andalusian performances is the Shetland Pony Grand National. More Fast and Furious than Vin Diesel in a Ferrari factory, the ponies hooves barely even seem to touch the ground.
It’s can be tough getting something resembling a half-decent shot, but there are a couple of unsung heros who get it bang-on the entire night long:
Now that we’re well past the interval, the real fun of the evening can begin – I speak, of course, of the Christmas Pudding Stakes show jumping.
Last year was won by Ireland’s Cian O’Connor on Splendor. He was riding Blue Lloyd this year; unfortunately, he had to withdraw four fences into the first round of jumping.
Blue Lloyd ridden by Cian O’Connor
There was so much great jumping – here’s some of my personal favourite images from the evening.
Cecilia, ridden by Robert Smith
The course is roughly as tight as it looks here. [From memory, this is the 5th fence on the first round]
Elie van de Kolmen, ridden by the great Michael Whitaker
See how Whitaker is already looking for the next fence before he’s even landed!
Jubilee d’Ouilly, ridden by Laura Kraut winning.
Horse and Rider are jumping their final fence on the final round. Two fast, clean, rounds earned them the Trophy.
Of course, no trip to Olympia would be complete without an appearance by Father Christmas. For me, this signals the official start of Christmas.
(P.S. I’m taking a couple of weeks off, so no new posts until the New Year.)