Sunday, December 19, 2010

Olympia - Why Britain still hosts the best show world over.

There's been a lot of talk recently about how events are finding it difficult to run through a recession and the cost of equestrian sport etc etc... However, as we speak the christmas extravangaza that is Olympia rages on.  But why is Olympia so successful? 

The quality of the competition is the same as else where - Just look at the entries for the FEI World Cup Qualifier which has some of the best riders in the world.  With that competition goes the suspence.  

Having been to see the Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse show a few years back I remember very clearly watching Nick Skelton and Arco jump.  An absolutely packed stadium of rowdy and happy people fell totally silent to the extent where you really could have heard a pin drop as everyone watched with their heart in their mouths.  When he finished there was somewhat of an explosion.  Olympia's the same except there's a difference.  When you watch Olympia the crowd are genuinely happy and there's a party atmosphere so when you do get that elusive clear round in the top classes there's proper appaulause - like serious celebrations...

Then there's that location thing.  London may not be one of the most exotic location in the world compared to the sun, sea and sand location of some shows on the continent but its got something quite special.  I've always though it quite strange to go to London to watch showjumping.  Central london showjumping has that magic factor, only the British could put a show smack bang in the middle of our biggest city.  

Plus, at Olympia there's entertainment in excess.  Go anywhere else and, yes, they'll be stands and stallion parades but at Olympia there's all that and more.  Put it this way - Olympia got the cast of the critically acclaimed West End show "War Horse" to perform the finale.  They just go a step further.  By the way, if you haven't seen "War Horse" it's well worth going to see. You can buy tickets here.  

We've got the proof as well.  Check out Olympia's sponsors which range from the Hilton to Renault.  As a business venture Olympia's great as it's totally sustainable.  As long as we can get a World Cup qualifier there'll be other international classes.  So you can jump at Olympia and do some world ranking climbing if you play your cards right.  So Olympia makes for a very profitable week.  If we get the world's best turning up we'll pull in the crowds and the sponsors and the prize money will be there.  The rest looks after itself.  

So there you have it.  Oympia really is head and shoulders above the rest.  Not just for all those reasons but because it's a celebration of the horse as a leveler.  A private box will set you down a few bob at Olympia but those same wealthy individuals will rub shoulders with the small boy who got a ticket at the back with a bad view for his christmas present.  All of them will cheer when the Puissance wall is cleared at some some ridiculous height or when the world cup qualifier is won by a fraction of a second.  For an hour at least they're equals, both caught up in the contagious euphoria of Olympia.  Of course the horses go back to the stables and munch away at a carrot totally unaware of the service they've done the world.  

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