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A Show Is Born!
Belfast's indoor horse spectacular attracts world-famous stars

Why should Ireland not have its very own, indoor international horse show? Why not indeed, said Equestrian Sports Promotions and the Belfast Indoor International Horse Show was born, complete with a home at the Odyssey Arena.

"It was a long labour - about two years," said Theresa McKenna, Event director, "but the infant is now doing well and making a lot of noise."

The Belfast Indoor International Horse Show will open its doors for the first time on November 27 and be a step towards putting Ireland back in the commanding position it used to hold, monopolising the show jumping scene and home of some of the world's top horse shows.

"The demise of prime-time television slots for the sport and an increase in sponsorship demands led to the collapse of the Dublin indoor show and to Millstreet losing the World Cup," says Mrs McKenna. "This show will do something about it. It will give Ireland something to boast about and the Irish something to talk about. And we have already put in a bid for another World Cup."

Some of the great names of international and Irish show jumping have said they want to be there - former European champions Jessica Kurten, Peter Charles, Kevin Babington and current champion Dermott Lennon, while support has come from Cian O'Connor, Conor Swail and British greats John and Michael Whitaker together with Nick Skelton.

The seriously competitive programme includes crowd-pullers like the Puissance, six-bar and International Envirocare Grand Prix, which commands £84,000 of the four-day £250,000 Prize fund. Then there's the Odyssey Jockey Chase when international show jumpers will pair with well known racing jockeys.

However, the event is not merely about show jumping, it involves world-famous acts, some of which are making their first ever appearance on the Emerald Isle. Jean Francois Pignon is one such act and has amazed the world with his new performance featuring five horses in a demonstration of trust, loyalty and liberty.

Fans will get the chance to see the talented Flying Frenchmen who made their debut in the UK at Olympia and now make their Irish debut at Belfast. One of the Flying Frenchmen, Matthieu Nassif, will clear jumps ranging up to 5½ ft in height, barefoot, but most astonishingly…without the a horse!

Also at each performance will be the Naprous Stunt riding dynasty - 'The Devil's Horsemen. Famous for their death-defying stunt riding, Gerard, Daniel and Camilla have provided the horses and become stunt doubles on blockbuster movies that include 'Gladiator, Tomb Raider II and Troy', which was filmed this year, starring Brad Pitt. Daniel confirmed their enthusiasm for the show and is looking forward to his visit to Belfast. "Belfast is one of our favourite places to perform' the Irish people are so warm and friendly, and really appreciate good horsemanship".

The Irish Shetland Grand National will also make its first appearance in this country. They might only have short hairy legs and reach a maximum height of 107cm, but racing fit Shetland ponies certainly know how to shift! Galloping at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, taking 2ft 4" high brush fences in their stride, this is an event not to be missed.

Sponsorship of the Belfast Indoor International Horse Show already makes impressive reading. Four Dee NI Ltd, specialising in CNC Controlled Laser Cutting, Plasma Cutting & Folding of Mild Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminium, have invested a six-figure sum into the five-star event for 2003 and have been announced as a primary sponsor. Envirocare, part of Cavan based Kingspan Group, has claimed Title Sponsor of this year's show, using the event as a multi-branding opportunity.

'When Envirocare was approached by the show's organisers to become title sponsor we jumped at the chance. Over the next twelve months, Envirocare will be expanding its business base in Northern Ireland so we need to communicate our brand messages in the right way and, of course, to the right people.' Charles concluded; 'By being involved in such an exciting project which shares our commitment to preserving and celebrating the local environment'.

Equestrian Surfaces have said "yes" to a three-year sponsorship package, worth a further six-figure sum to the show. "We are absolutely thrilled to be providing our premiere surface Cushion Track," said Paul Harper, Managing Director - Equestrian Surfaces Ltd. They will be providing over 900 tonnes of Cushion Track as the base for Odyssey's first equestrian arena.

The show's official hotel has been announced as the Days Hotel, located in the heart of Belfast City. The newest and largest hotel in Northern Ireland is one of the main sponsors of the Belfast Horse Show.

Additional sponsorship has been confirmed from Waterford Crystal, Spillers Speciality feeds, Wilson's Auction Group, HorseWare Rugs, Flybe.com, Floral Earth, Warner Village Cinemas, The News Letter & Equestrian Life, Downtown / Cool FM Radio, The Odyssey Arena, Tushingham Stables, The Irish Sports Council, Rolex, MyTravelLite Airline, Brookland Bedding, DA Forgie Machinery, AJ Lamont Trailers & Ifor Williams Trailers, Equestrian Direct Sales, McHale Engineering, Eventsec, SVS Productions, and ASM Howart.

Tickets for the Belfast Indoor International Horse show are on sale now and range from just £7.50 to £35 for ringside seats. Tickets are available from Odyssey Box Office: 028 9073 9074, Ticket Master outlets nationwide or Ticket Master 24-Hour Hotline: 0870 243 4455. Tickets are selling fast so book now to avoid disappointment.


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Updated: October 2005.