Dettori leads Flat team to showjumping success at Olympia
Frankie Dettori captained the Flat jockeys to victory over the jump riders in the Markel champions challenge at the Olympia Horse Show on Friday night.
In an exhilarating event, the Flat team of Dettori, Jim Crowley, Adam Kirby, Jamie Spencer and Bridget Andrews – coached by showjumper Scott Brash – produced controlled and neat rounds to secure victory by 45.51 seconds over the jump jockeys.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson, Sam Twiston-Davies, Tom Scudamore, Harry Skelton and Victoria Pendleton made up a star-studded jumps team, who had the benefit of coaching from Nick Skelton, winner of a showjumping gold medal at the Rio Olympics. However, while they certainly had the speed, too many refusals led to their downfall.
Dettori was thrilled with his team's win after losing out two years ago. He said: “I had been riding my daughter’s pony in the run-up to the event to get my legs and all the right muscles used to it!
"It’s very hard to find the balance but I went as fast as I could without knocking stuff over."
Twiston-Davies, who parted company with his horse during the warm-up, said: “I’m pleased I stayed on in the ring – I was riding a lively horse, that’s for sure.
"We had less time to warm up than the Flat jockeys as we were away racing during the day, but fair play to them – they did very well.”
The event was in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, and Lisa Hancock, chief executive of the IJF, said: “What a great night! The jockeys loved it, the crowd loved it and it was just a huge amount of fun that helps raise the profile of the Injured Jockeys Fund and what we do."
Dettori and Pendleton were the only two riders to complete a clear round and the Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist was delighted to take part in the event. She said: "It was an honour to be able to ride at Olympia and be coached by Nick Skelton. It was an amazing opportunity and all in aid of a very important cause.”
Pendleton, who finished fifth on Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham only a year after taking up riding, has certainly caught the riding bug and currently has two of her own point-to-point horses in training.
“Racing makes me so happy, I almost feel sick I love it so much," she added. "Horses are incredible and I could never have estimated how much riding would affect me."