A Golden chance to see Olympic hopefuls

John Whitaker aboard Peppermill clears the water jump
John Whitaker aboard Peppermill clears the water jump
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THE showjumping is always a major attraction at the Great Yorkshire Show and this year it looks set to be more competitive than ever. Our top riders will be out in force as this will be the last big show for some of our Olympic hopefuls before they head to Greenwich.

Nick Skelton, currently on terrific form, has confirmed that the Great Yorkshire is the only show in this country that he has included in his campaign for his possible Olympic horses. He will be bringing Carlo and Big Star to the show, both of which have medal winning potential.

Skelton, 54, has won 18 World and European championships in his career but has yet to win an Olympic medal.

Tim Stockdale looks to be back in the running for an Olympic place following his recent performances, including jumping a double clear in the recent FEI Nations Cup in Switzerland, helping to secure equal second for the British team. Stockdale has fought back to fitness after breaking his neck in a fall.

The show wouldn’t be complete without the Whitakers competing on home ground. Members of the family who have entered so far include John and Michael, Louise, Robert, Ellen and their cousin, Joe Clayton.

Among the other well known names to look out for will be Will Funnell, Tina Fletcher, Keith Shaw, Guy Williams, Geoff Billington and Robert Smith.

There are two showjumping classes each day in the main ring, culminating in the famous Ripon Select Foods Cock o’ the North Championship on the final afternoon.

This was won in spectacular fashion last year by John Whitaker on Peppermill, who beat his son Robert into second place.

The total prize money for this is £24,000 with £8,000 going to the winner.

At the other end of the scale is the Mini/Major competition, introduced for the first time last year. Junior showjumpers across the country have been competing for a place in this class, where the finalists will be partnered by a top showjumper. The competition is a relay and the winner is the team with the fastest clear round.

Showing classes at the Great Yorkshire attract entries from all over the country and this year the event will include a total of 37 Horse of the Year Show qualifiers. The Retrained Racehorse class is increasingly popular and the first and second in this will go forward to the championship at next year’s Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.

Another very well supported section is the Mountain and Moorland Ridden classes which are qualifiers for HOYS. There are eight classes which will all take place on the Wednesday.

The champions from the ridden classes, including the Retrained Racehorses, are eligible for the TopSpec Ridden Supreme Championship which will take place in the main ring, also on Wednesday. The overall champion wins £1,500 and the reserve receives £250. The winner last year was Simon Reynolds and the Maxi cob, Hallmark 1X.