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Fifteen standout moments from the Royal International

Wednesday, 27 July 2022
CSIO5* Longines Royal International Horse Show 2022

As the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead kicks off, we look back at some of the event's standout moments – authored and selected by Victoria Goff.

All photos © Royal International Horse Show.


Hickstead had been hosting the British leg of the Nations Cup since the 1970s, and started hosting the Royal International Horse Show in 1992, but it wasn’t until 1998 that the Nations Cup moved to become part of the show instead of being run as a separate fixture. In 1992, Tina Cassan – now Fletcher – helped the British team to victory with a double clear on Genesis, and two weeks later the pair returned to Hickstead for the Royal International and won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup for the first time. 


The show’s move to Hickstead proved a fortuitous one for Michael Whitaker, who won the first King George V Gold Cup to be held there in 1992. His win came courtesy of Midnight Madness, and the pair won the same class again two years later.  

Michael was also the first showjumper to win the Eventing Grand Prix – though he had to borrow an event horse to do it! His win on Chris Ward’s Sir Dino came in 2003. 


Nick Skelton has produced many standout performances in the King George V Gold Cup, winning a total of four times, with the latter three wins all taking place at Hickstead. In 1993 he produced the only clear round to win outright with Limited Edition, then in 1996 he claimed a third win with Cathleen, and in 1999 he had his final win in the class, this time thanks to Hopes Are High. The latter win was quite extraordinary because two days earlier the horse had to pull out of the Nations Cup mid-competition after a first-round clear, having caught a pole between his legs in the collecting ring and being too sore to jump. But he was fine by the final day of the show, and went quickest of a 10-horse jump-off. 

Above, Nick Skelton being presented with glass tumblers to mark his retirement in 2017.


US rider Laura Kraut made a winning debut at Hickstead when claiming the 2005 Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Anthem. She has since gone on to win a number of international classes at the show, here competing in 2019. 


The late great Tim Stockdale had always dreamed of winning the King George V Gold Cup, and in 2009 he felt he had missed out on his best chance, having hit the final fence in the jump-off with Corlato to lose out to Peter Charles. But 12 months later Tim came back and won on board Fresh Direct Kalico Bay, achieving his lifelong ambition.


After the Nations Cup was moved to become a feature class at the Royal International Horse Show, the Brits had to wait a further five years to celebrate a home victory. In 2003, a team comprising Nick Skelton, Robert Smith, Scott Smith and Richard Davenport secured the win, with Nick jumping double clear on Arko III, the horse who had inspired him to take up showjumping again after breaking his neck three years earlier. 


Trevor Breen has won nearly every one of Hickstead’s feature classes, including the Derby and Speed Derby at the June meeting, the All England Grand Prix at the national championships, and the Eventing Grand Prix and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. All those wins came on just one horse – the fabulous Adventure De Kannan. ‘Addy’ was even more remarkable because he had had an eye removed later in his career yet still continued to jump at the top level. Trevor was also part of the winning team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain in 2018 on the grey mare Bombay – so he just has to win the King George V Gold Cup to complete the set! 


There’s no better feeling for a rider than having a winning streak, and that was certainly the case for Irish rider Billy Twomey in 2016. He scored an amazing four international wins in the space of a week, including the Longines King George V Gold Cup with the chestnut mare Lizziemary. 


Before 2008, the King George V Gold Cup was restricted to male riders only, while the Queen Elizabeth II Cup was only open to ladies. But that all changed when an update to the rules meant both sexes could compete for the feature Grand Prix, while the Queen’s Cup became a prestigious national title open to the highest-ranked British-based riders only. The first man to ever win the Queen’s was Hickstead’s own Shane Breen in 2008 with Carmena Z, and he repeated the win in 2013 with Zarnita. It earned him the nickname Queen Breen! 


Only one woman has lifted the Longines King George V Gold Cup – and that’s Beezie Madden, who won in 2014 with Cortes C. Not satisfied with winning it once, they came back and won it again the following year too to make them the only back-to-back winners since the class has been held at Hickstead. 


Ben Maher counts his 2013 win in the Longines King George V Gold Cup as one of the most prestigious of his career – and for the reigning Olympic champion with countless Grands Prix to his name, that’s saying something! His win came on board Tripple X, the horse who also took him to Olympic team gold in 2012. When Tripple X was retired from competition in 2019, he returned to the scene of one of his greatest moments for an emotional farewell ceremony in the Longines International Arena. 


Sweden had never won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain, until 2019 when the in-form squad of Peder Fredricson, Fredrik Jonsson, Angelie von Essen and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson lifted the trophy for the first time. Such was their dominance that day, fourth rider Rolf-Göran didn’t even need to jump the second round for the Swedes to take the title. 


The last time Britain won its home leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup series was back in 2010, the year the showground was celebrating its 50th birthday. The quartet of Tina Fletcher, William Funnell, Peter Charles and Michael Whitaker led from start to finish to secure victory in front of a jubilant crowd. It’s been 12 years since the last home win – will this year finally see another British victory?


Britain’s performance manager Di Lampard and her most famous horse, Abbervail Dream, had an excellent record in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup – winning in 1994 and 1998, and finishing runner-up a further three times. 


With heavy downpours for the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain, it was perhaps unsurprising that Britain and Ireland were the teams left slogging it out for the honours! Riders from both nations are more than used to dealing with inclement weather, and the teams hardly seemed to notice the driving rain as they became locked in a head-to-head battle to lift the famous Edward, Prince of Wales Trophy. 

The host nation and Ireland were tying on eight faults at the halfway stage, and it continued to be neck-and-neck between the two teams with the teams tying on 16 faults each by the end of the second round. Ireland’s Anthony Condon and Britain’s Holly Smith were selected to ride off against the clock. Riding Hearts Destiny, Holly delivered a perfect clear in a fast time of 43.39sec to keep British hopes alive. But Anthony Condon wasn’t about to give up the fight, and the Co Waterford-born rider got SFS Aristio over the line more than 2sec faster in a time of 41.29sec to give Ireland the win.

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