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Olli Fletcher: ‘For 2-star showjumping, there is no such thing as a must go overseas’

  • Olli Fletcher is a five-time youth European medallist and one of the leading young talents in British showjumping. The son of Graham and Tina Fletcher was competing at Horse of the Year Show in the international classes for the second time.

    Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) has come back better than ever. It’s one of the best shows in England. The feeling and the buzz you get when the curtains open and 8,000 people cheer is one you can’t describe unless you’ve felt it yourself – it gives you goosebumps.

    No matter what class it is, you get that buzz and it’s an amazing feeling.

    I had a good show, being placed in nearly every class and I was delighted to finish seventh in Sunday’s Leading Showjumper of the Year. I’d run the London Marathon just a few days earlier, finishing in a time of 3hrs43min and raising over £4,000 for World Horse Welfare, so I was a bit achey to start with!

    But Irish showjumper Jessica Burke had an amazing one – it was her first time at Birmingham and she won three classes, so fair play to her.

    I also take my hat off to Robert Murphy. He’s national champion, he qualified for the international classes and proved himself there, while also winning two national titles. Everyone likes him and it’s nice to see him doing well.

    Working together

    All my best friends are riders – there were eight of us out for dinner one night – and we do everything together. It’s like being on holiday at a show like this, except you’re working, too.

    There’s a lovely atmosphere in the warm-up – someone who has already jumped will tell you how the course rides, as we all help each other. I have a friend who couldn’t get her head round that. Someone at the Global Champions Tour asked me how the course rode and she didn’t understand why I’d told them. But everyone works together, and it’s a nice atmosphere between the riders.

    You want to win, but you also want everyone to do well. It’s a very supportive environment.

    A benefit of Brexit

    Brexit has affected the number of foreign riders who would have come to HOYS, but it’s a good three-star show and their absence gives more British riders the chance to compete in the international classes.

    I think the show scene in Britain is improving. You can see by the number of Irish riders based here now. We have the prospect of Addington coming back, Keysoe making improvements and Bicton trying hard.

    We have some really good events on home soil and it was great to have some excellent international shows here this summer – for two-star level competitions, there was no need to go abroad for the first time in a long time.

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 13 October

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