Photo-shoot: Jumping with joy at equine extravaganza

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The Independent Online
Simon Brooks-Ward, director of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships which ended their five-day run on Monday, can forget about the publicity stunts dreamt up by his late father, Raymond. These included sending Ted Edgar, in full safari kit, down Kensington High Street on an elephant in order to publicise one of the early shows.

The crowds now flock to this event, relishing the snappy programme of top-class jumping, spirited displays and fun competitions. This year's 26th running of the championships broke all previous records, attracting a near capacity audience over the 10 performances.

Some of the entertainments - notably the Pedigree Chum Dog Agility and the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National are perennial favourites, with amazingly agile dogs breathlessly eager to please their handlers and Shetlands going faster than you thought their short legs could carry them.

Other displays included the Metropolitan Mounted Police jumping through hoops of fire and the latest French showman, Jean-Francois Pignon, playing with his friends who happen to be horses.

With a prize fund worth pounds 230,000, the show jumping attracted most of the world's top riders and generated thunderous applause whenever one of the Whitaker brothers appeared. There was warm appreciation, too, for the best of the visitors, notably the stylish German, Ludger Beerbaum, who was leading rider of the show.

Beerbaum's two children, aged 13 and 6, were at Olympia for the first time. Like other youngsters they loved the show, even before they had the thrill of cheering their father home to victory.

- Genevieve Murphy

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