The fifth and final day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show 2015 on Sunday hosted an unprecedented number of spectators in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.
The crowds were treated to a thrilling finale in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix with last year’s champion Chester Weber retaining his title while Ireland’s Dermott Lennon also made a victorious return to the show to claim the CS13* Alltech Grand Prix.
Having not competed at Royal Windsor Horse Show for 10 years, Irishman Dermott Lennon’s return resulted in him etching his name in the prestigious event’s history books by winning the Alltech Grand Prix for the Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy. Partnering the consistent Loughview Lou-Lou, he thrilled the crowd with the kind of performance expected of a former World Champion.
“I’d watched [Britain’s] Yazmin Pinchen go and she rode a great round,” said Dermott. “My main concern was getting over the planks, but once I’d done that I was able to go.”
His tactics paid off and he was able to pinch back three seconds, holding on to the lead over eventual second placed Robert Whitaker [Catwalk IV] for Britain.
“I always love to come to Britain and win,” Dermott joked. “It’s a great and famous show with classes for every type and shape of horse I think.”
Home rider Laura Renwick secured her second win of the week by claiming the remaining three-star international competition of the show. Riding Rembrandt Blue, Laura set such a pace that, despite collecting eight seconds in penalties, she still managed to hold a lead over France’s Michel Hecart [Toupie de la Roque].
The USA’s Emma Heise rounded off a week of strong results with a win in the Royal Windsor one-star international Grand Prix riding Viper Vrombautshoeve Z. Based in Warwickshire with Olympic Gold Medallists Laura Kraut (USA) and Nick Skelton (GBR), Emma, who bettered seven rivals in the jump-off, has enjoyed her time at the iconic venue.
“I really like it here,” she said. “It’s been so interesting seeing so many disciplines and competitions we just don’t get in the US.”
In a dramatic finale to the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, last year’s horse four-in-hand winner, Chester Weber from the USA – in second place overnight – coupled professional nerve with outstanding driving skill to retain his title with a back-to-back win.
Second last to go in the cones phase, it looked for all the world as if he would produce the first double clear; however, going just over the allowed time, he picked up a 0.18-penalty. In the winning position and ready to take up the challenge, Australia’s Boyd Exell drove smoothly and steadily to just past the halfway point on the course. Here his left wheeler slipped on a tight turn, temporarily affecting the steering and losing time. When a ball dropped further on he had to push hard for home; the penalties he accrued dropped him 2.5-penalties behind Weber.
“I’m elated,” Weber said. “It’s such a privilege to drive at Royal Windsor and my horses have been outstanding. The course designer here [Christian Iseli from Austria] is the hardest in the world but I have a good record with his courses. I knew if I could go clear the pressure would be on.”
In the pony four-in-hand, Bram Chardon proved himself a champion right to the end. The only competitor to drive the cones course within the allowed time, he had just one ball down to add a win in this phase to his first places in dressage and cross-country, finishing 20 penalties ahead of Tinne Bax from Belgium. Two times gold medallist with this team of grey Welsh ponies, two of whom are British bred, this is his second time competing – and winning – at Royal Windsor.
“My aim was to finish with a double clear,” he said. “But we have had a wonderful event.” His father, Ijsbrand Chardon, finished third in the horse four-in-hands.
North-Wales based Kinvara Garner, 12, who was unable to compete last year because her father, Chief Steward Sebastian Garner, was taken ill, came back with vengeance. She took the coveted novice show pony title with the family’s home-produced 4-year old Alonby Dauphin.
The show hunter pony went to another young lady on the verge of an exciting equestrian career. Alice Homer from Banbury, Oxfordshire, is only 11 but is already following in the footsteps of her famous showing family – her mother is Loraine Homer and her grandfather is the legendary showman David Tatlow. Having won her working hunter pony class aboard nursery stakes contender Lemington Nougat, she hot-footed it to another arena to win the 133cm class on Annandale Maria. Then she produced an electrifying performance in the Castle Arena to take her first Windsor Championship.
A fantastic fast-paced finale in the Daks Pony Club Mounted Games saw Wales vault to victory with England, which they had been battling it out at the top of the table all week, coming in a close second. The mounted games wowed the crowd with the five nations impressing the applauding audiences all week with their pace, agility and incredible skill in all of the races.