Equestrianism: Olympia has classy entry

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Franke Sloothaak and Ludger Beerbaum, the world and European show jumping champions, are due to make their only visit to Britain this year to compete in the Olympia Show Jumping Championships from 18 to 22 December.

Sloothaak has twice been out of action because of injury this year. His latest accident was at Stuttgart last month when he dislocated his right shoulder, but he is hoping to be back in time for the London show.

The two German riders are among the usual top-class entry for this annual meeting, which includes Britain's only qualifier for the Volvo World Cup. Nine of the top 10 on the World Jumping Rankings have entered, the exception being Austria's Hugo Simon.

British entries include two of the top ten in the world: John Whitaker (third) and Geoff Billington (tenth). Among their compatriots will be Michael Whitaker (12th), Robert Smith (16th) and Nick Skelton (18th).

"We are lucky in that this is one of the few shows that the riders want to compete in," said Simon Brooks-Ward, director of the Olympia meeting. The fixture is equally popular with the public.

Brooks-Ward, also director of both the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Pavarotti International Horse Show at Modena in Italy, will be one of the key organisers for the 1999 European Show Jumping Championships which have just been awarded to Harrogate by the International Equestrian Federation.

It is hoped some international classes can be held as a dress rehearsal at Harrogate next year, possibly during the Great Yorkshire Show.