Extreme horsepower: Love and carriage hits London

Story highlights

  • Carriage racing set to star in London this week
  • World stars competing at top horse show
  • Around 90,000 fans to attend event

(CNN)Power, adrenaline, thousands of screaming fans and "The Devil's Horseman" -- welcome to the world of carriage racing.

Forget the Roman chariots racing around Circus Maximus, it's all about the world's best drivers trying to steal the show at London's Olympia this week.
The FEI World Cup Driving competition comes to the UK, with home favorite Dan Naprous -- known as "The Devil's Horseman" -- hoping to thrill fans with victory in Friday and Saturday's competitions.
    Around 90,000 fans will flock to the London International Horse Show, where carriage racing features alongside dressage and showjumping.
    But it's the pulling power of the four-horse speedsters which gets people off their seats as riders try to navigate their way around some of the trickiest courses in the sport.
    "When you enter the ring, you're focused," Naprous told CNN.
    "As soon as you enter the ring, there are four horses, two guys and a course you need to get around as fast as possible.
    "The rest of it doesn't come into it until the last buzzer when you're leaving, and then you can appreciate the surroundings.
    "I think I'm a gracious loser but inside I'm a bad loser. You don't want to lose, it's not a nice feeling."
    Naprous races in his spare time when he's not training horses or performing as a stuntman in movie and TV productions, such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.
    He says competing at OIympia is one of the most exciting experiences in the sport.
    Riders must negotiate their way around a course full of obstacles, with the fastest time taking victory.
    Naprous will be up against the likes of reigning champion Boyd Exell, who has won the overall World Cup title on six occasions.
    The Australian won last year's event by four seconds, and is favorite to triumph once again.
    But Naprous is hoping home advantage plays a part. He says the London venue, especially at such a festive time of year, remains the place to be.
    "It is spectacular because you've got that Christmas feeling, a great atmosphere and they really look after the drivers there," he added.
    "You'll find the majority of the drivers at Olympia will be there at the finals because it's the show they all want to come to.
    "When you go to Olympia it's a completely different atmosphere to being on a film set. You want to be in there for as short a time as possible because that means you win, so it's very intense.
    "You don't really feel the fatigue of it until later that evening when you sit down and analyze what happened. When you're in the ring, you're just on auto."