The Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix draws to a close at Hickstead

The Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix will no longer form part of the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead (29 July - 3 August). 

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The organisers have made the regretful decision to remove the event from this year's programme, following a change of television scheduling.

"This year, Sky Sports will be filming the action from the Longines Royal International Horse Show from Friday onwards," explains Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn. "Viewers will still be able to watch live action from a number of classes, including the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Longines King George V Gold Cup.

"However, in the Eventing Grand Prix, the horses and riders spend several minutes jumping the cross-country fences in the gardens of Hickstead Place, and without TV cameras to capture the action, the visitors watching live in the grandstands would be unable to follow what was happening," Lizzie adds.

The Eventing Grand Prix was formed in 1998 by Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn, international showjumper Paul Schockemöhle, and event rider Robert Lemieux. It was a unique competition that saw showjumpers and event riders go head-to-head round a course of coloured showjumps and fixed cross-country obstacles.

The class, which has been sponsored by bloodstock insurers Amlin Plus since 2010, saw riders take on a number of Hickstead's permanent obstacles, including the side of the Derby bank, the Irish bank and the Devil's Dyke. Riders also splashed through the lake in the centre of the International Arena. Any fences knocked down added 5 seconds to the rider's time, with the fastest time winning.

The first ever Eventing Grand Prix was won by top event rider Pippa Funnell and The Tourmaline Rose - with the pair going on to win the class twice more, in 2000 and 2001. Pippa has represented Great Britain on a number of European, Olympic and World Equestrian Games teams, and remains the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam.

Olympian Michael Whitaker became the first showjumper to win the Eventing Grand Prix, finishing at the top on Sir Dino in 2003. Other showjumpers to win the class include brothers Shane Breen (2006 and 2010) and Trevor Breen (2012), while the final running of the class in 2013 was won by eventer-turned-showjumper Zoe Adams and Satonamillion.

Other event riders to take home the trophy include Olympic riders Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Mark Kyle (IRL), plus Australia's Lucinda Fredericks and the great mare Headley Britannia. 'Brit' and Lucinda won the class in 2004, and would go on to win three of the world's biggest four-star events, Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky. Sadly the diminutive mare who won the hearts of so many was put to sleep earlier this month at the age of 21.

Eventer Gary Parsonage was the most successful rider of all in the class, winning in 1999 on Just So I and going on to win a further three times on the great Peter Street.

"We'd like to thank Amlin Plus for their support of this class for the past four years," says Lizzie Bunn.

Hickstead will no doubt continue to attract event riders, with a number of top riders including Pippa Funnell, Gemma Tattersall and Sharon Hunt having competed in the showjumping classes in recent years.

The Bunn Leisure Trophy will now become the showcase class on Thursday afternoon. This is a Longines world ranking jumping class with £21,500 of prizemoney, and, as a qualifier for the Longines King George V Gold Cup, will provide vital insight into which riders and horses are in top form for the rest of the show.

As well as providing three days of television coverage from the Longines Royal International Horse Show, Sky Sports will also be showing live action from the Equestrian.com Derby on Sunday 29 June.

To book tickets for the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines Royal International Horse Show click here or call 01273 834315.

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