Magical moments from the Royal International

We choose some of the best moments from the past 30 years since the Longines Royal International Horse Show moved to Hickstead 

Tim Stockdale thumbs up.jpg

Did you know that this summer marks 30 years since the Longines Royal International Horse Show moved to Hickstead? The show had been held at a number of venues since it first took place in 1907, including Olympia, Wembley Arena and the White City Stadium. After a spell at Birmingham's NEC, it moved to Hickstead in 1992 where it has remained ever since. 

To mark our 30 year anniversary, we take a look back through the archives to choose some of the standout moments from the past three decades. 

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) Since 2002, the ponies have had their own supreme championship to compete for the Dick Saunders Trophy, but before then the ponies had to hold their own against the horses in the Winston Churchill. The first to win the Winston Churchill was the prolific 148cm riding pony Royal Bronze in 1993, followed by fellow riding pony champion Trelawn Playboy who took the overall supreme in 2001.

4) Former racehorse trainer John Dunlop had an extraordinary run in the Winston Churchill Cup, with his horses winning three years in a row. Red Hand won in 1997 and 1998, then Statesman II won in 1999 to complete the hat-trick.

5) The first ever Eventing Grand Prix took place in 1998 and it involved showjumpers going head-to-head against the eventers. The class initially included a dressage test, and the eventers dominated the inaugural class, with Pippa Funnell winning on The Tourmaline Rose, the late Polly Phillips coming second with Coral Cove and the future Olympic champions Blyth Tait and Ready Teddy finishing third.

6) Nick Skelton has produced many stand out 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.

7) 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.

8) The two showing Supreme finals on the Sunday of the show allow the week’s champions to come forward for one last judging. With no go-round, the competitors only have one chance to impress the judges, and that’s by producing a stand-out individual show. We’ve had some unforgettable moments over the years, such as riders standing on their horse’s saddle, toasting the crowd with champagne, riding through the lake… But who could forget Oliver Hood riding cob champion Chaplin up the Derby bank in 2015? Fortunately they didn’t attempt to come down the steepest side on the way back down!

9) 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.

10) Michael Whitaker was 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.

11) The great Irish mare Flo Jo relished the International Arena at Hickstead, and never more so than when winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup two years in a row with Marion Hughes in 1995 and 1996.

12) 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.

13) Jayne Ross has collected an impressive tally of five British Horse Society Supreme Horse titles. One of her most popular wins was on board the stunning hunter mare Time 2 Reflect, who had back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2016. She clinched the Winston Churchill both times with an effortless gallop around the Longines International Arena.

14) Trevor Breen has won nearly every one of Hickstead’s feature classes, including the Derby and Speed Derby at our June meeting, the All England Grand Prix at our 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. Amazingly, his brother Shane has won all of the same classes so they just have to win the King George V Gold Cup to complete the set!

15) In the history of the Eventing Grand Prix, there has never been a more prolific partnership than Gary Parsonage and Peter Street, who won the class an impressive four times.

16) 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.

17) The cob Super Ted was an extraordinary show horse, giving Robert Oliver an amazing run of eight supreme cob championships in a row from 1987 to 1994, with the latter two wins coming at Hickstead. The pair also took the Winston Churchill two years running, but before the show was held here at the All England Jumping Course.

18) Another prolific Hickstead winner is Doonaveeragh O One, a former event horse turned showjumper. Having won the British Speed Derby and been placed in the Derby under jump jockey Robbie Power, his sister Esib reclaimed the ride and went on to win the Eventer’s Challenge at the 2016 Longines Royal International Horse Show.

19) 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!

20) 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.

21) Robert and Sarah Walker had an unforgettable day at the Royal International in 2021, when taking both the champion and reserve spots in the Brereton Supreme Hack Championship. Robert rode small hack victor Parkgate Royal Visit William to take the tricolour, with wife Sarah standing reserve with the large hack Forgeland Hyde Park.

22) After winning the British Nations Cup for the first time in 1937, Ireland had a 63-year wait before winning it again! In 2000, the Irish team of Cameron Hanley, Cian O'Connor, Dermott Lennon and Kevin Babington ended up victorious over the home side. It was an especially good show for the Irish, with Hanley also taking the Longines King George V Gold Cup.

23) 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.

24) 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-Goran Bengtsson lifted the trophy for the first time. Such was their dominance that day, fourth rider Rolf-Goran didn’t even need to jump the second round for the Swedes to take the title.

25) No pony had ever won the Dick Saunders Trophy two years running until Dance All Night did just that in 2012 and 2013. His first win came under Lucinda Elliott, and his second came under her sister Sami. Incredibly, the show pony was just four years old when taking the supreme for the first time.

26) Show producer turned dressage rider Louise Bell won the Supreme Working Hunter championship four years in a row with the great Rocky IV, so it’s only fitting that the winner of this class is presented with a trophy named in his honour.

27) Australian event rider Paul Tapner showed some precision planning when claiming the Eventer’s Challenge two years running with Bonza King of Rouges, very narrowly missing out on a hat-trick when finishing runner-up behind Nicky Hill in 2019.

28) 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 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?

29) 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.

30) One man has dominated the British Horse Society Supreme Horse Championship at Hickstead, and that’s Allister Hood. The Norfolk showman has won an incredible nine titles in total, with his ninth and final one courtesy of the prolific cob Our Cashel Blue. The pair immediately retired after being selected champions for the second time last summer, in what was a hugely touching ceremony. Our Cashel Blue’s saddle was removed and he was led out of the arena, while Allister’s fellow show producers formed a guard of honour to pay tribute to a true gentleman of the sport with a Hickstead record like no other.

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