Thursday, 31 December 2015 07:13

British Showjumping Celebrates 90th Birthday

British Showjumping reached a major milestone on December 31 - a day that marked 90 years since the Association was officially incorporated.

From those origins under the presidency of Lord Lonsdale and the British Show Jumping Association's first chairman Lt Colonel Charles (Taffy) Walwyn, it has grown magnificently into a blockbusting story of global success, starring legendary riders and equine superstars.

Across iconic venues like Olympia, Hickstead and Wembley, through such prestigious events as Horse of the Year Show, the Royal International and London International, to household names - David Broome, Harvey Smith, John Whitaker, Nick Skelton, Pat Smythe and Scott Brash - and wonder-horses of iconic repute - Milton, Ryan's Son, Foxhunter, Beethoven and Hello Sanctos to name just a few - a truly inspirational tale has unfolded.

There has been considerable success at the highest level of all, with Olympic gold for the 1952 team of Harry Llewellyn, Duggie Stewart and Wilf White being unforgettably replicated on home soil at Greenwich Park 60 years later by Skelton, Brash, Ben Maher and Peter Charles.

There were individual Olympian feats to savour as well, notably that of the mighty Stroller, a 14.2hh pony ridden to silver medal success by Marion Coakes at Mexico City 48 years ago; Ann Moore's 1972 silver with Psalm; Broome's two bronze (1960 and 1968) and one for Peter Robeson at the Tokyo 1964 Games.

European medals also proved plentiful, while closer to home, the sport has been privileged to witness many unforgettable deeds accomplished in the Hickstead Derby, King George V Gold Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Cup and on many other stages the length and breath of Britain.

Impossible, too, to understate the contributions made by Hickstead founder the Late Douglas Bunn, multiple trophy-winning Great Britain chef d'equipe the Late Ronnie Massarella, in addition to all the owners and sponsors that have helped retain this country's seat at showjumping's top table for so long.

And so as the sport enters another Olympic year, with all roads leading to Rio in August, British showjumping is well-set as reigning Olympic champions and possessing current world number one in Brash, a ranking he has held almost unbroken for 25 months and a reign of dominance highlighted by him completing the 1million Euros Rolex Grand Slam aboard the brilliant Hello Sanctos in unprecedented fashion.

Under the patronage of Her Majesty The Queen since 1952, it certainly has been a case of happy and glorious for British showjumping.

Timeline depicting just a few of the very many successes the sport has seen:

1923: The British Show Jumping Association is founded.

1925: British Show Jumping Association formally incorporated as a company. First president is Lord Lonsdale, with Lt Colonel Charles (Taffy) Walwyn appointed chairman.

1949: The first Horse of the Year Show is staged at Harringay Arena in North London. It was the idea of Captain Tony Collings, and put into action by BSJA chairman Mike Ansell.

1952: Her Majesty The Queen  grants her Patronage to the British Show Jumping Association, while Great Britain's team of Harry Llewellyn (Foxhunter), Duggie Stewart (Aherlow) and Wilf White (Nizefela) win team gold at Helsinki Olympics. It was Britain's only gold of the Games in any sport.

1956: Pat Smythe becomes the first British female showjumper to compete at an Olympics, and helps Great Britain win team bronze alongside Wilf White and Peter Robeson in Stockholm.

1960: Welshman David Broome wins Great Britain's first Olympic showjumping individual medal by taking bronze with Sunsalve in Rome. He then became BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

1961: The first Hickstead Derby takes place at the All England Jumping Course in West Sussex, a venue founded by the late Douglas Bunn.

1968: Marion Coakes and the sensational 14.2hh pony Stroller win individual silver medal at the Mexico Olympics.

1970: David Broome becomes Britain's first showjumping world champion, winning gold at La Baule in France with Beethoven.

1978: Nick Skelton breaks the British high jump record, setting new figures of 7ft 7in at Olympia with the appropriately-named Lastic.

1989: Great Britain win fifth Aga Khan Trophy in eight years at the Dublin Horse Show under the late Chef d'Equipe Ronnie Massarella's masterful direction.

1994: Milton retires having become the first Showjumper to win £1m in prize money. This incredible horse then made several guest appearances alongside another outstanding grey, the steeplechaser Desert Orchid

1998: Di Lampard, Great Britain's current showjumping performance manager, wins Hickstead's Queen Elizabeth II Cup for a second time with Abbervail Dream.

2012: Great Britain team of Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles end 60-year wait for Olympic glory by winning team gold at London Games.

2015: World number one Scott Brash makes showjumping history by winning Rolex Grand Slam, landing a 1million Euros bonus for grand prix successes at Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows.

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