Thursday 28th of October 2021

Rio Focus: Show Jumping

As the British team prepares to defend its team title from the London Olympics without the partnership of Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos, it will face fierce competition from the likes of the USA, Germany, The Netherlands and France.

Will Nick Skelton and Big Star make amends for an unlucky four faults four years ago when leading? Or will Dutch superstar Jeroen Dubbeldam add another Olympic gold to the one he won back in Sydney?

Ones to watch:


Rob Ehrens, the Dutch chef d’equipe, recently stated that he could field two teams for Rio – such is the strength in depth of the team, which won team and individual titles at the 2014 World Equestrian Games and last year’s European Championships.



Jur Vrieling riding Zirocco Blue VDL © Herve Bonnaud/FEI

Jur Vrieling riding Zirocco Blue VDL © Herve Bonnaud/FEI

Smolders Harrie  © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans

Smolders Harrie
© Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans

Jeroen Dubbeldam, the individual gold medal winner in Sydney, has enjoyed great success with the talented SFN Zenith N.O.P – winning team and individual gold medals in Normandy and Aachen respectively. Considered by many to be the hot favourite for the individual gold at these Games, the 12-year-old gelding has been carefully produced with Rio in mind.

London team silver medallist, Jur Vrieling, will ride the striking Zirocco Blue VDL. The pair were a member of the winning team at the Rotterdam Nations Cup in June.

Fellow London teammate Maikel van der Vleuten and Olympic debutant Harrie Smolders, have also made the team after stellar performances in Nations Cup teams this season.  


Germany has traditionally been one of the strongest nations in show jumping, and having the support and backing of the government has meant the sport has flourished over the last few decades.

Leading the team for Rio is the former Olympic and European champion Ludger Beerbaum. Arguably one of the finest riders and horsemen all of time, Ludger has consistently struck gold at numerous championships over the years. He will ride the 13-year-old Casello and the pair won at the Hamburg Global Champions Tour (GCT) in May.

 Marcus Ehning  © FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Marcus Ehning
© FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Marcus Ehning will head to his third Olympics riding the big jumping Cornado NRW. The 13-year-old son of the great Cornet Oblensky is a sight to behold with Marcus and the pair finished fifth at the Goteborg World Cup Final back in March. On top form, they are worthy individual medal contenders

Former world number one Christian Alhmann and Olympic debutant Daniel Deusser are the final members of Germany’s team on Taloubet Z and First Class Van Eeckelghem.  With a formidable looking team, it would be ill-advised to bet against the German quartet finishing in the medals – particularly after the team’s heartbreak at London 2012.


The American team won back-to-back team medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics but surprisingly failed to make an impact at London when finishing outside the medals. However it would not be a surprise to see a particularly powerful team finish on the podium with the likes of Beezie Madden and McLain Ward involved.

Beezie Madden © Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo De Koster/FEI

Beezie Madden © Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo De Koster/FEI

 Lucy Davis  © Karl-Heinz Freiler/FEI

Lucy Davis © Karl-Heinz Freiler/FEI

Beezie, who won individual bronze with her team gold at the Beijjing Olympics, rides Cortes C and together they have won two King George V Gold Cups and two bronze medals at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG).

McLain, the current world number one, won two team gold medals at the Athens and Beijjing Olympics with the wonderful mare Sapphire. His ride for Rio, HH Azur, is only 10 years old, but together they have won three five star grand prix, including in Rome.

Olympic debutants Kent Farringdon and Lucy Davis fill the other two team spots with Voyeur and Barron respectively. Lucy, who is only 23, became the youngest rider to win a Global Champions Tour grand prix (at the age of 20) and was a member of the bronze medal winning team at the 2014 WEG.


French show jumping has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, with a run of individual and team medals at European and World Championships. They surprisingly did not qualify for the second round at the London Olympics and are hoping to better their team silver from two years ago at Normandy.

Simon Delestre © Stefano Secchi

Simon Delestre © Stefano Secchi

Penelope Leprevost © Martini Jean Philippe

Penelope Leprevost © Martini Jean Philippe

The 2013 European Champion, Roger Yves-Bost will ride Sidney Une Prince and the pair finished fifth in the Rotterdam Grand Prix on their last outing.

Last year’s European individual bronze medallist, Simon Delestre, will be hoping to go two better on the 11-year-old Hermes Ryan des Hayettes and the pair have been consistently placed in all their five star classes this year.

Kevin Staut and Penelope Leprevost, considered by many to be the stalwarts of the French team, will ride at their second Olympics and are hoping to add an Olympic medal to their many world and European ones. Flora de Mariposa, who led last year’s Europeans until an untimely fence down, could provide Penelope with an overdue individual medal to add to her collection.

Great Britain:

British hopes of defending their team gold medal from London were dashed following news that Scott Brash would not be available for selection with either Hello Sanctos or Hello M’Lady. Despite the loss of Scott, the British team will certainly not lack in experience with Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Michael and John Whitaker involved.   

The triumphant return of Nick Skelton and the hugely talented Big Star to lead the British team is a reason for British fans to celebrate. The partnership’s impeccable record, which includes jumping clear in all of the team rounds at London 2012, will put them among the favourites for the individual title. After spending two years on the sidelines due to injury, Nick reportedly said that the 13-year-old stallion felt like the “old” Big Star.

Ben Maher, who was crucial in helping Britain win Olympic qualification at the Aachen Europeans last year, will ride the 13-year-old Tic Tac. Despite having only ridden the stallion since January, they have performed well in several Nations Cups. Ben, who was a team member at the Beijing and London Olympics, is renowned for his coolness under pressure and his team record is second to none.

Ben Maher

Ben Maher


Michael and John Whitaker need little introduction, having represented Britain over the past thirty years with horses such as Ryan’s Son, Portofino 63 and the great Milton. Now 56 and 60 years of age an Olympics will not phase the pair in any way. Michael partners the striking grey stallion Cassionato, who were members of last year’s European team, whilst John will ride the less experienced but talented Ornellaia. The For Pleasure mare is only 11 but there is no better man in the saddle to guide a horse through their championship debut.

The “dark horses?”


The tiny Gulf nation has been making its presence felt on the international jumping circuit – having held the finale of the Global Champions Tour in Doha for the last three years.

The Qatari team, trained by Jan Tops, won team gold at the Asian Games and have continued to be competitive at the top level against the more established nations. Sheikh Ali Al Thani and Bassem Mohammed are the more experienced riders within the team and have seven horses qualified between them for these Games


Steve Guerdat riding Nino des Buissonnets wins at Helsinki  Photo: Tapio Maenpaa/FEI

Steve Guerdat © Tapio Maenpaa/FEI


The defending individual champion, Steve Guerdat, will head the Swiss team after a fine run of form. After successfully defending his World Cup title in Goteborg, the 34 year old has the choice of two horses for Rio. His 2012 partner, Nino des Buissonnets, is undoubtedly one of the best horses in the world when on form but is also known for his slightly quirky temperament – he unexpectedly refused at the 2013 European Championships when in contention.


Despite the loss of the ten-time Olympian Ian Miller, the Canadian team will be boosted with the likes of former Olympic champion Eric Lamaze leading the charge.  Eric, who took a break from the sport following the tragic loss of his wonderful partner Hickstead in 2011, has returned to the top level with vengeance and will be heading for his third Olympics with Fine Lady 5.

The former Ben Maher ride Tripple X, who was part of the gold medal-winning team in London, has struck up a solid partnership with Tiffany Foster – a former pupil of Lamaze.


Swedish show jumping has long been represented by the likes of Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, who won silver at the 2008 Beijjing Olympics and the 2011 European title in Madrid on the now retired Ninja La Silla.

Rolf, arguably one of the finest riders to grace the show jumping arena with his quiet hands and coolness under pressure, will ride the 12-year-old mare Unita ASK who has been placed in several Grand Prix this season including the Global Champions Tour leg in Madrid.

Joining the former European champion will be the experienced trio of Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Cue Channa 42, London 2012 team member Henrik von Eckermann riding Yjamila and Peder Fredericson and All In.

The home team:

Brazilian show jumping has enjoyed tremendous publicity and success thanks to the likes of Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa in recent times.  The team, on home soil, can certainly rise to the occasion and have a selection of top class riders and horses to choose from, including Rodrigo.


Team Medals:

·      Gold – Germany

·      Silver – Netherlands

·      Bronze – France

Individual Medals:

·      Gold – Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith (NED)

·      Silver – Nick Skelton and Big Star (GBR)

·      Bronze – Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara (GER)


–       12 August – horse inspection

–       13 August – training session

–       14 August – first individual qualifier

–       16 August – team first round

–       17 August – team second round and presentation of team medals

–       18 August – second horse inspection

–       19 August – individual competition and presentation of individual medals

You may also like…

Join us on Facebook

Follow on Twitter