Big Star and Nick Skelton competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
It is with great delight, that British Showjumping are announcing that the current National 6 year-old Championships will be renamed the Big Star Championships for 2017 and beyond.
London 2012 Team Gold and Rio 2016 Individual Gold medal winner, ridden by Nick Skelton OBE and owned by Gary & Beverley Widdowson, made history this summer when they brought home the first Individual Gold medal for Great Britain that the sport has ever won.
Wishing to ensure that Big Star’s tremendous talent and performance was acknowledged ongoing within the sport the National 6 year-old Championships was the one that everyone agreed would be the correct flagship to carry his name going forward.
Big Star, who was produced by Nick through the age class structure, won the National 6 year-old championships in 2009 before going on to compete on the international stage as his career progressed. In his interview straight after the presentation of the class in 2009, Nick declared Big Star to potentially be best horse he had ever sat on and a horse that he strongly believed would go right to the top. His recognition of Big Star’s talents so early on in his competitive career and the decision to target him for this particular championships lays testament to the national competition structure and we trust that by renaming it the Big Star Championships it will inspire other breeders, owners, producers and riders hoping for top level success to follow in his path.
Gary Widdowson, speaking on behalf of himself and wife Beverley commented “We are extremely pleased to have Big Star acknowledged in this way. The National 6 year-olds is a championships we have won twice. Once in 2008 with Carlo, whom Nick also produced to the highest level, and then in the following year with Big Star whom we felt was the right horse for us to keep with London and Rio in mind. To have Big Star’s name bestowed over a championships that we have always felt a pivotal one in our horses development is an honour and we are delighted.”
Nick Skelton furthered “I have always felt that the age-class system is the correct way to produce a horse with long term performance in mind. When Big Star won in 2009 I knew that he was incredibly special and that we had a potential medal winner in him. We have always taken our time to produce him slowly and to see it paid off in the way that it has been with a back-to-back gold still makes me emotional when I think about it. I am delighted that Big Star is being recognised in this way and I hope that it inspires others to take the same route and produce young horses through what I believe to be the correct path”.
“We very much wanted to ensure that Big Star’s name was kept at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”
A trophy for the newly renamed championships has been commissioned by internationally renowned equestrian sculptor Carolyn Morton. The trophy which will be called ‘Making History’ will be 1/8th life size in Bronze and will depict Big Star and Nick over one of the Rio 2016 fences. On her commission Carolyn said, “I am particularly excited about the opportunity to create a legacy trophy of Big Star as he is a horse that has not only made such a mark on the sport in Great Britain but also on a global level. I was with him earlier this week where we spent time taking all his measurements and I look forward to bringing his talent, physique and incredible personality to life through the sculpture for future winners to be inspired by’.
Iain Graham, Chief Executive for British Showjumping added “We very much wanted to ensure that Big Star’s name was kept at the forefront of everyone’s minds within the sport by renaming a championship title after him and there couldn’t have been a more fitting one than the National 6 year-olds.
“The series will commence in the Spring and culminate at our National Championships in August and we look forward to seeing horses, that may well follow in Big Star’s footsteps, crowed and awarded the prestigious new perpetual trophy which is being created for it.”