It is safe to say that show jumping, as a global sport has never had it so good. Many wondered if it would ever recapture the heady heights of the 1970s and 1980s when household names like David Broome and Harvey Smith strutted their stuff at the Horse of the Year Show every night of the week live on the BBC Television straight after the Nine O’clock News.
But while those days have probably gone for good show jumping’s worldwide reach is to be envied.
From Florida to Falsterbo, Shanghai to Stuttgart and Basel to Bolesworth, and now Liverpool, the sport enjoys a geographical profile it could only have dreamt about 20 years ago.
The Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show, a sparkling four-star event has attracted numerous top riders and will provide another celebration of show jumping excellence.
Last year’s feature riders included:
Longines World Ranking: No 25
Emanuele is currently the leading world-ranked Italian show jumper, having developed impressively since announcing his potential through winning an individual silver medal at the 2007 European Young Rider Championships.
An officer with Italy’s State Forestry Corps, a police force responsible for monitoring the country’s forests, parks and nature reserves, Emanuele continues to be a consistent performer at the highest level.
He is an experienced senior European Championships campaigner, while he also took part in the 2014 World Equestrian Games and is a 2013 Paris Masters winner, in addition to enjoying Grand Prix successes in Palermo and Chernyahovsk. He also finished third at the 2015 Monaco Global Champions Tour Grand Prix.
John Whitaker MBE
Longines World Ranking: No 23
John and his brother Michael are two of the most famous names in British show jumping - largely due to the partnership between John and his famous grey Milton. He and his brother Michael used to deliver milk by horse and cart before they went to school, and he was also allowed to stay up late to watch equestrian events on television.
John achieved huge success winning medals at the World and European Championships during the 1980s and 1990s and silver at the LA Olympics in 1984. One of his most famous horses was Milton, the first show jumping horse to win more than £1 million in prize money and one of the most loved and recognised horses is the history of show jumping.
John received an MBE from Her Majesty The Queen in 2007. He has competed in 39 major international championships collecting 24 medals. Incredibly, John returned to show jumping just one year after suffering a life-threatening brain haemorrhage in 2000.
Longines World Ranking: No 46
The fact that young Belgian rider Constant is competing and thriving among the world’s best showjumpers should come as no surprise, given his family’s rich history in the sport.
Constant’s father Stanny competed at three Olympics, which included winning a team bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games, while his mother Beatrice is a former European Junior Championships’ individual bronze medallist.
A twice Belgian junior champion and his country’s 2011 young rider champion, 21-year-old Constant is a rising star, as underlined by performances on the Longines Global Champions Tour circuit, when he was fifth in his first GCT Grand Prix at Doha two years ago, and then third in Antwerp the following season.
Longines World Ranking: No 29
Denis, who grew up in Tipperary, is one of the most accomplished riders on show jumping’s world circuit and has been a mainstay of Irish teams at the highest level.
His early ambitions were to enter the world of horse racing, but since turning to show jumping, he has competed at Olympics and World Games level, in addition to the European Championships, showcasing all his experience gained from being based in continental Europe for many years.
Consistency has been a hallmark of Denis’ riding career, underlined by the fact that his portfolio features five-star Grand Prix wins at prestigious venues like Aachen, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Doha, Rome and La Baule, and he is sure to feature prominently among the podium challengers throughout three days of thrilling competition in Liverpool.
Longines World Ranking: No 43
Essex-based Laura is Britain’s leading lady rider, both on the current British and world rankings lists, which underlines what a consistent performer she is.
Laura started riding young - she was just 12 months when she got her first pony Pippin! - and she has risen steadily through the ranks, enjoying success on domestic and European stages.
She was leading rider of the year at the 2013 London International Horse Show, Olympia, having achieved a similar feat three years earlier at the Horse of the Year Show, while she has also represented Great Britain at Nations Cup level, highlighted by a superb winning performance in St Gallen, Switzerland two years ago.
Laura arrives at The Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show after a year studded with Grand Prix successes.
Longines World Ranking: No 57
Like his older brother John, Nottinghamshire-based Michael is a master horseman who has proved himself time and time again at the highest level of world show jumping.
Michael has won 15 major championship medals, including team silver for Great Britain at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and four European team titles, while he has also completed in more than 20 FEI World Cup finals, claiming three podium finishes.
Part of the legendary Whitaker show jumping dynasty, Michael began competing on ponies at the age of seven, and as a teenager he trained with famous Swedish coach Lars Sederholm.
Michael became the youngest winner of the iconic Hickstead Derby in 1980 - he went to claim a Derby hat-trick between 1991 and 1993 on Monsanta - while he has also won four King George V Gold Cup titles and remains a truly world-class competitor.