Liverpool International Horse Show – 1-3 January 2016

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Approach to Liverpool Echo Arena

Great news for horsey peeps in the north of England – a new international showjumping event was launched at the Liverpool Echo Arena from Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd January!  So naturally, I went for a nosey on the Saturday daytime performance to see some top level riding and also some thrills and spills!

Being a northern lass and having visited Olympia and the Horse of the Year Show, it was refreshing to have a similar event at a commutable distance without having to arrange hotel accommodation.  Furthermore, I paid £18.50 for each ticket which was very reasonable.  They weren’t the best seats in the house but the price was excellent value in comparison to Olympia and HOYS.

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Police horses outside the venue

Parking is conveniently close to the arena, which was just as well as we were on the minutes!  We had booked onto the matinee performance starting at 12.30pm.  Once through security, we breezed through the food and drink outlets, trying not to get tempted by the programmes and plush pony stalls.

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Ponies!!

The opening of the show involved some great lighting effects, drummers and the Bella Voci Opera Duo.

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Spot the 2 opera singers!
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Drummers in lit up costumes
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Back view of the Bootleg Beatles

We didn’t have a spectacular view of the Bootleg Beatles, but there was a large video screen at the front which showed them in black and white which looked really authentic.  They played 3 small sets throughout the show and provided some alternative entertainment to the not so die hard horse audience.  That included my son and husband!

Amateur Grand Prix course
Amateur Grand Prix course

The first showjumping competition that day was the Amateur Grand Prix.  The car in the picture was the prize (lease of it for a year) and was won by Aisling Byrne on Wellview Classic Dream.  Some big fences in this course with some relatively inexperienced horses, and up and coming riders, but we were treated to some brilliant riding and no-one came off! Ironically, the falls that occurred were in the second competition with the top level riders!

Taking a bow
Taking a bow

One of my favourite parts of the show was an elegant display by French stunt rider, Clemence Faivre, who rode side saddle on her beautiful Lusitano horse.  The picture really doesn’t do them justice so have a look on her website www.clemencefaivre.com for some amazing pictures and her story.

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Although I don’t watch horse racing, the Shetland Pony Grand National is always fun to watch.  Many professional jockeys started off doing this competition as children.  One to watch for the future is Trevor Hemmings’ 12 year old grandson Ben Hemmings who took part in this event.  Trevor is the owner of 3 Grand National winners and after this mini race, 2 previous National winners took part in the parade.

During the interval, we had a quick browse round the shopping village, passing the riders behind the scenes warming up in an arena alongside the champagne bar.  Oh if only I knew it was there earlier!

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Compared to the other well known show jumping events, the retail village was smaller.  But then, this is the first show held in Liverpool and it was New Year.  I’m sure next year it will be even bigger!

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Part 2 of the show started with the Bootleg Beatles and then a display by the Horseman Team, who were 5 men who could jump high fences.  Then it was an exciting Speed Stakes show jumping competition featuring big names like Robert Smith, Peter Charles and the Whittakers.  Having been to a few shows, falls were uncommon but there were a few tumbles and refusals here.  We tried to get a picture of Guy Williams in action but unfortunately this happened…

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Unlucky! Guy usually wins or is in the top three everytime I’ve seen him, but he wasn’t hurt so all’s good.  As it turned out, Piergiorgio Bucci on Casallo Z won with the fastest time of 46.44 secs, with Laura Renwick runner up on Heliodor Hybris, and Billy Twomey third on Tin Tin.

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Clare Balding was also there conducting interviews, and Geoff Billington sharing words of wisdom in his humorous style.

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After a final performance from the Bootleg Beatles we left the arena and made our way to the car park.  Be warned, we had a loooong wait getting out as people were coming in for the evening performance!  If you are taking non horsey people to a horse show, this one is probably a good one to visit as the entertainment between the showjumping is more broad spectrum.  Personally, I thought the show was a great success and hope it grows in popularity each year.  Have a look on www.liverpoolhorseshow.com for more info and take a trip next year!

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