International CSI5* Show Jumping
Six of the world’s top 10 Show Jumpers will be taking to the Castle Arena, headed by World No. 1 Kent Farrington (USA), who will be hoping to make a successful return from injury to reclaim his title in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix. The class, the pinnacle event of the Show, will take place on Sunday 13 May, with a top-class line-up contending for the coveted Rolex Grand Prix and unprecedented prize fund of €300,000.
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 respectively, will be hot on Farrington’s heels, seeking to usurp him from pole position in the Rolex Grand Prix, a position he has taken two years consecutively. 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 crowd favourites Scott Brash and Ben Maher, will be looking to mount a formidable home challenge across the three days of CSI5* competition, including action taking place during a Saturday evening performance. Father and son combination, John and Robert Whitaker, William Funnell and the notoriously fast GuyWilliams will all be sure to set the Castle Arena alight, looking for a home victory.
Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick will be heading the female challengers, along with USA representatives, Laura Kraut, another Olympic gold medallist within the stellar line-up, and Lauren Hough, plus British young rider Emily Moffitt.
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 No. 1 Daniel Deusser (GER), fresh from Grand Prix victory at the FEI World CupTM Final in Paris last weekend.
International CDI4* Dressage
Reinforcing the international prestige of the Show will be the CDI4* Dressage, with The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix and The Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music set to take centre stage on the evenings of Thursday 10 and Friday 11 May respectively. Home favourite Carl Hester has dominated Dressage at Royal Windsor in recent years, with victory aboard his Rio Olympic companion Nip Tuck in 2015 and returning to dominate both the Freestyle and Grand Prix with the British-bred Barolo in 2017. Hester will be returning in 2018 with Hawtins Delicato, with whom he recently made his National Grand Prix debut, scoring 76.8%, and the horse with which he is hoping to compete at the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM (WEG) later in the year.
Triple Olympic gold medallist, Charlotte Dujardin is sure to pose a serious challenge to Hester’s previous dominance, riding her new Grand Prix partner Mount St John Freestyle, who made an impressive Grand Prix debut last month, scoring 81%. The nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, hailed as Dujardin’s next superstar and nick-named “Mrs Valegro”, is also being aimed at WEG, with Windsor providing an excellent platform to showcase her ability in front of international judges, including Susan Hoevenaars, who will also be judging at WEG itself.
Four-time British Olympian, Richard Davison (GBR) will also be looking to steal Hester’s crown with homebred gelding Bubblingh, out of his former international ride Ballaseyr Royale, who together took the Grand Prix and Freestyle in Roosendaal at the end of last year, as will compatriot Hayley Watson-Greaves (GBR) with Rubins Nite and former British team member Gareth Hughes aboard Don Carissimo.
A strong international contingent will be seeking to dampen British spirits, including Tosca Visser Van Der Meulen and Thamar Zweistra from the Netherlands and Germany’s Juliette Piotrowski, a former Young Rider European team gold and individual silver medal winner. From Japan, Akane Kuroki will be riding her Olympic ride Toots, with young rider Caroline Chew (SGP), silver medal winner at the South East Asian Games, returning aboard Tribiani. Ireland’s Kate Dwyer will be making a spectacular come back from a broken back, which put her out of action for the winter season, aboard the twelve-year-old Snowdon Faberge.
International CAI3*/CAIO4* Driving
The 2018 CAIO Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World CupTM qualifier, will play host to a magnificent line-up in each of the three categories; horse and pony four-in-hands and horse pairs.
The 30 horse four-in-hand competitors represent 12 countries including five from the home nation. Among them will be reigning indoor and outdoor World Champion, Boyd Exell from Australia, who, earlier this year claimed the FEI World CupTM championship for the seventh time, looking for a ninth Royal Windsor win.
Giving him no quarter will be two top competitors from the nation that has dominated gold medal position at the World horse four-in-hand championships over the last decade, the Netherlands’ Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde, the latter also being the current FEI World CupTM bronze medallist. Chardon’s son, Bram, a previous world pony four-in-hand champion as well as pony four-in-hand winner at Windsor, will make his Royal Windsor debut in horse four-in-hand and will be one to watch. The USA’s Chester Weber will also be back attempting to reclaim his 2014 and 2015 Royal Windsor titles.
GB’s horse four-in-hand challenge will be in the experienced and capable hands of the Basset sisters, Karen and Pippa, as well as Wilf Bowman-Ripley, Dick Lane and Daniel Naprous, whose performance indoors at the London International Horse Show at Olympia has thrilled the home crowd in recent years.
The horse pairs, a CAI3*, will field 18 competitors from 11 nations, including last year’s winner, Lars Schwitte (GER). He will find himself with stiff competition from the current world bronze horse pairs medallist Beat Schenk (SUI) as well as the experienced Barry Capstick (IRL). The challenge from the home nation will come from successful horse pairs driver David Matthews, as well as barrister Chris Smith, current chairman of British Carriagedriving.
Competition in the 9-strong pony four-in-hand, also a CAI3*, will be as strong as it is in the other two categories with last year’s winner, Tinne Bax from Belgium out to retain her 2017 Royal Windsor title. The Netherlands’ Jan de Boer, the current world silver medallist and six-time Royal Windsor winner will provide tough opposition, with Britain’s Sara Howe, Roger Campbell and Joanna Broadbent all determined to uphold the Union Jack.
Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward said, “The calibre of entries at this year’s Show is second to none, demonstrating the ever-increasing international prestige of the event and cementing its status amongst the best shows in the world. We’re honoured to welcome some of the world’s finest horses and riders and are looking forward to watching the world-class action unfold.”