Olympia set to welcome Victoria Pendleton in the Markel Champions Challenge

Olympia, The London International Horse Show, is delighted to announce that double Olympic gold medallist, Victoria Pendleton, will be gracing the Olympia arena as she turns her hand to show jumping in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund on the evening of Friday 16th December for the Markel Champions Challenge.

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She will be plying her trade against the best in the racing world. The Challenge is made up of a flat jockey team captained by Frankie Dettori and a jump jockey team captained by current National Hunt Champion, Richard ‘Dickie’ Johnson. The flat team will also include about-to-be-crowned Champion flat jockey Jim Crowley. Both teams will be gunning for glory making the adrenalin fuelled contest even-money.

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Frankie’s team: Frankie Dettori, Jim Crowley, Hayley Turner, Adam Kirby, 5th rider (TBC)
Dickie’s team: Richard Johnson, Victoria Pendleton, Sam Twiston-Davies, Tom Scudamore, Harry Skelton

The competition will see the five flat jockeys competing against the five jump jockeys over a challenging show jumping course built by the legendary course designer Bob Ellis. This exhilarating spectacle will task even the most experienced of riders, creating huge excitement around the Olympia arena for this year’s Friday evening performance.

Prior to the event, the former cyclist will undergo specialist training from a fellow Olympian, currently at the pinnacle of his career – Rio 2016’s individual show jumping gold medallist Nick Skelton. Nick will be giving Victoria special tuition as the multi-sport queen switches saddles yet again to take up this latest challenge.
Victoria Pendleton, multiple Olympic medallist, said:

“I am thrilled to be a part of such a prestigious event like Olympia. The Markel Champions Challenge will be an exciting competition with such a high calibre of jockeys and I’m really looking forward to riding in it. To be back involved in a team again and hear the excitement of the crowd will be immense, I just hope the jump jockeys can get over the line for the win!”      

Juliet Redfern, Markel’s Managing Director of Equine and Livestock, said:

“It is fantastic to see the return of the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund; Markel are proud to be associated with such a credible cause at a brilliant event. To see Victoria on board will be enormously inspiring to everyone, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all the competitors the best of luck.”  

Lisa Hancock, Chief Executive of the Injured Jockeys Fund, said:

“The Injured Jockeys Fund is delighted to be involved in this fantastic event. Not only will it be a lot of fun but it will help to raise awareness and crucial support for all injured jockeys and their families.”  

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To buy your tickets to this unique event and secure your place at one of the equestrian performances of the year, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The End of Season Event – 2015 a year to forget?

Now officially off- season and definitely a holiday feel in the air, it’s time to take stock of the year. I could say 2015 is a year I’d like to forget. It’s been a tough one, particularly the last few months which saw my little boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a very close family member being diagnosed with lung cancer – as it happens she has her first round of surgery tomorrow.

As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well I really hope it does! But I think it’s important to be mindful that despite all the stress I am still hanging on in there, and having some incredible highs as well as lows. Wanda is as well as ever and she and my filly Wilma give me so much joy… even when they are being utter divas with attitude.

The Eventing community as a whole has had a tough year. At one stage I did wonder what on earth would come next. It goes to show how strong riders can be and how solid the glue is that sticks the community together. Over the past 3 months I have been lucky to join the team working to produce The End of Season Event, a black tie ball hosted by the Eventing Riders Association. Held at the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, we developed a Blair theme, following the Europeans hosted in Scotland earlier in the year. The committee was a mix of really hard working people who also juggled their day jobs alongside planning the party. At face value to organise a ball for 200 seems a breeze, but add in a short timescale and some plans to raise money for charity then you have a massive task on your hands.

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I could chat for ever about the ins and outs but it’s a big job and at times caused a good bit of stress… but you just keep going don’t you? If something seems the right thing to do you don’t stop even if you think why an earth am I adding to my workload here!

One of my massive motivations was to raise some money for the Eventing Family, which earlier in the year had supported the Teenage Cancer Trust and CRUK amongst other charities. Through some work I had been doing I’d met Hannah Francis, a young event rider who was diagnosed with cancer in May this year. She had opened an Instagram account, with her soft toy sidekick ‘Willberry Wonder Pony’, her companion during tough times in hospital. Hannah was looking to enlist 5000 followers on Instagram and I said I’d help out in any way I could. I don’t think either of us could have reckoned on how things have rolled and now Willberry is a veritable superstar. It would be rude to claim any credit in Hannah’s achievements whatsoever. She is remarkable and makes my daily gripes seem quite… well pathetic really. Hannah is the politest, sweetest young woman I think I have ever met. Always friendly and so brave with the way she has handled her illness. There is a lot to be learnt by her humble attitude, empathy for others and massive courage.

I was thrilled when Hannah was well enough to come to the ball, although I know she had been poorly in the day so it was a big ask. Lizzie, one of our committee members, had arranged 2 luxe cars to pick Hannah up from her hotel so she arrived in style. This was our first meeting, despite months of chatting and ‘knowing’ each other. I also got to meet Willberry!

Little did Hannah know she was going to receive the prestigious ERA ‘against all odds’ award that night. I had to be so careful she didn’t get wind of it and it was a massive surprise for Han! With all the committee on the stage, Han came up to collect her award. By this point I was in floods of tears. I make no apologies that I am a very emotional person. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse… it really is… but what’s not human in caring and showing that you care? It was lovely to see Hannah’s face and for her to have some acknowledgement for the fundraising she has done. Hannah really is an example to us all.

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Hannah and Willbery being presented their award by ERA president Bruce Haskell and board member Paul Tapner

 

So where is this blog heading, should it have more ‘meaning’… well I’m not entirely sure! It’s just a tale of a ball, a lovely girl and her little toy pony. But possibly more than that… It’s about all the things that so often get forgotten, about caring for people and making little things happen, or even making big things happen that create little changes. It’s about trusting human kindness, having compassion, being generous and charitable. But it’s also about not expecting reciprocation. Reciprocation is about ‘togetherness’ and being part of humanity but in reality I believe no one should ever owe you anything.

For sure, I can be horrid at times. I work too hard and it makes me a stress-head- moan- arse. But I’m learning… slowly… about what really matters. Life is way too precious to not take it head on.To Carpe Diem, Choose Life or Kick On or Just Do It. Whatever your inspiration, don’t waste what you have and what you can do with it. Be brave like Hannah and Willberry and spread some kindness. Live life xx