Olympic event riders Laura Collett, Gemma Tattersall and Pippa Funnell head to Hickstead 

Find out which eventers are competing in this year's Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge (Thursday 28 July). 

Gemma Tattersall & Santiago Bay KS44823

Laura Collett, who won team gold at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, is among the event riders heading to Hickstead for the Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge (Thursday 28 July).

Wiltshire-based Laura has entered Dacapo, whose latest run at Millstreet saw him win the long-format CCI4*. Laura has been placed in the Eventers’ Challenge at Hickstead on a number of occasions, but is yet to lift the trophy. Having won Badminton back in May, Laura is obviously on superb form. 

Local five-star rider Gemma Tattersall, who regularly competes in the showjumping classes at Hickstead, is another to look out for in the eventing showcase, having finished third in the class in 2019. She rides Flash Cooley, who has plenty of four-star form, while Gemma has won a team gold medal at the World Equestrian Games as well as representing Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Pippa Funnell has been a mainstay of the British eventing team for years, and she is also regular at Hickstead. Surrey-based Pippa won the very first eventing competition to be held at the showground in 1998, and this year hopes for a strong performance with the homebred Billy Wonder.

But while these three riders will be among the favourites to win, they’ll face strong competition from Nicky Hill, who is hoping to retain the trophy she won in 2019. She hasn’t had the chance to defend her title until now, as the Longines Royal International Horse Show was cancelled in 2020 and ran in a reduced format in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nicky returns with her winning ride Kilrodan Sailorette, who has had a number of good runs at Advanced and 4* level this season, with the pair impressing the Hickstead crowd three years ago with their brave, fast round.

Other British contenders include Francis Whittington (DHI Fiktor Nita), Helen Witchell (My Ernie), Lucy Jackson (Kallio B), Felicity Collins (Shadow Minnie Moon) and Tom Crisp (Vendome Biats), while international riders include Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca (Ballypatrick SRS), France’s Gaspard Maksud (She’s The One) and Ireland’s Heidi Hamilton (Dam Easy).

The Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge takes place on the Thursday afternoon of the Longines Royal International Horse Show (27-31 July). Arena Eventing first took place at Hickstead in 1998, with the original Eventing Grand Prix going on to inspire countless similar classes around the world. The class used to see showjumpers and eventers go head-to-head round a course that was set in the Longines International Arena and in the grounds of Hickstead Place. After an absence of one year, the class was brought back into the schedule in 2015 as the new-format Eventers’ Challenge.

It now involves a set course that remains the same each year, and remains within the confines of Hickstead’s famous main arena. Some of the riders to win the class in its new format include New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, Ireland’s Esib Power and Australia’s Paul Tapner, who won in both 2017 and 2018.

Tickets for the Longines Royal International Horse Show are on sale now. The Ashby Underwriting Eventers’ Challenge will also be available to watch via livestream on Hickstead.TV and ClipMyHorse.TV

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