Royal Windsor Horse Show heralds the real start of the summer competition calendar in the United Kingdom, so it’s no wonder so many riders flock from around the world to compete in the shadow of the iconic Windsor castle in Berkshire, England. it runs May 9-13 and represents the show’s 75th anniversary year.
Kent Farrington returns to action
US riders Kent Farrington (pictured), Lauren Hough and Laura Kraut are taking seven horses between them to contend the CSI5* international jumping classes.
Six of the world’s top 10 showjumpers will be taking to the Castle Arena, headed by the world number one Kent, who will be hoping to make a successful return from injury — where he broke his leg while competing in Florida over the winter — to reclaim his title in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix. The class takes place on Sunday May 13, with a top-class line-up contesting the coveted title and prize fund of €300,000 (around $355,000).
Reigning European Champion and individual silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics, Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Rio Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut (FRA), currently ranked third and fourth in the world, will be hot on Kent’s heels. Top Italian duo, Lorenzo de Luca and Alberto Zorzi, along with fellow top 10 rider Steve Guerdat (SUI), individual gold medallist at London 2012, will be adding to the stiff competition.
A strong British contingent, led by Scott Brash and Ben Maher, will be looking to mount a formidable home challenge across the three days of CSI5* competition, including Saturday evening’s gala performance. Father and son combination John and Robert Whitaker, Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick, William Funnell and the notoriously fast Guy Williams will all be seeking victory on home turf.
British rider Emily Moffitt, who is US based for half the year, will be looking to build on her successful winter season in Wellington, Florida.
Representing Ireland will be Bertram Allen, Denis Lynch and Cian O’Connor, all of whom were part of the European gold medal winning team last summer. Adding further international flair to the competition will be former individual Olympic champions, Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, and former world number one Daniel Deusser (GER).
New stars on show in dressage
There are no US representatives in the 13-strong CDI4* dressage competition — which consists of a grand prix and a grand prix freestyle class — but the British heavyweights Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin will be competing their latest grand prix stars.
Charlotte rides Mount St John Freestyle, a nine-year-old mare by Fidermark who exploded onto the international grand prix scene in April of this year, winning both her classes at Nieuw en Sint Joosland, a CDI in the Netherlands — with a plus-75% and a plus-81% score. This is the mare whom Charlotte hopes to be selected with for the British team at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, North Carolina, in September of this year.
Similarly, home favourite Carl Hester’s mount, Hawtins Delicato, is the horse he is aiming at WEG selection. The rider has dominated the dressage at Royal Windsor in recent years, with victory aboard his Rio Olympic horse Nip Tuck in 2015 and dominating on the British-bred gelding Barolo in 2017.
Hawtins Delicato, 1 10-year-old by Diamond Hit, has been campaigned by Charlotte at small tour and at national big tour to date, with Carl recently making his national grand prix debut (scoring 76.8%). All eyes will be on the master of dressage to see what he can pull off in the horse’s first CDI grand prix test.
Richard Davison rides his home-bred Bubblingh, another combination with their eyes fixed on WEG. A total of 13 riders will contest the grand prix, which is a qualifier for the grand prix freestyle, and takes place on the evening of Thursday, May 10. The freestyle to music is held in the evening on the following day.
Detailed times of H&C coverage:
Royal Windsor 2018: Grand prix freestyle dressage Saturday May 19 at 7pm Eastern
Royal Windsor 2018: Bahrain King’s Cup jumping Saturday May 19 at 8pm Eastern
Royal Windsor 2018: Rolex grand prix jumping Sunday May 20 at 7pm Eastern
Royal Windsor 2018: Bahrain Pearl Stakes jumping on Tuesday May 22 at 8pm Eastern