Stage is set for the Horse Show 2017; john thompson looks ahead to a host of equine sport at the echo arena to see out the year.
Byline: john thompson
HE world's leading show jumpers will be in Liverpool for a third year running at the end of December.
TAnd they'll also bring flying motorbike riders, an acrobatic horseback fire and flame display - and some of the world's best session musicians.
All can be seen at Liverpool's ECHO arena between December 29 and 31 as the acclaimed Liverpool International Horse Show returns.
Also featuring each day are pint-sized jockeys and horses in The Shetland Pony Grand National. But amid all the family fun will be a deadly serious, international show jumping contest with a six-figure prize pot and involving the best in the business.
The designated four-star show, including a spectacular New Year's Eve night time finale, was first held in Liverpool over New Year 2015.
Riders competing this year include John, Michael and Robert Whittaker from the famous family dynasty. Leading British stars, Laura Renwick, Robert Smith, Jessica Mendoza, Will Funnell, Guy Williams, Louise Saywell and Nigel Coupe will join them. Last year's leading rider, Germany's Felix Hassman will be joined by Belgian rider Constant van Paesschen plus other overseas stars. Irish legend and Grand National Winner Paul Carberry will also be show jumping at the event. Dressage legend Carl Hester, MBE will also be there.
Freestyle motor cross riders - daredevil stars who compete in year-round competitions - will also be putting on displays. They'll be flying off a purpose-built ramp, with bikes 40 feet in the air, and will feature in every session.
There'll be New Year's Eve specials from Luminoso - an eye-catching stunt display with horses and fire.
Show president Nina Barbour said: "We equestrian extravaganza to the UK.
"Luminoso features fire, pyrotechnics and some of the best horse trick riding in the world.
"Six highly-skilled horses and riders will be wowing us with their acrobatic displays to a dramatic soundtrack and plenty of thrilling action."
Also new for 2017 is live music from Rick Parfitt Jnr (son of Status Quo's legendary singer and guitarist Rick Parfitt) and the RPJ band, comprising some of the finest session musicians in the country, who will be performing every session with a special party set.
To book tickets log on to www.echoarena.com/horseshow or call the ECHO arena box office on 0844 8000 400 Prices are PS13.61 per person when bought as part of a four person family ticket (plus PS2.55 fulfilment fee per order).
Although the horses are the main event, there will be motorbikes and music to please the audiences