Scott Brash thrilled the packed house at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, on Sunday, December 18, 2016 to earn a major victory on home turf in Great Britain. With a virtuoso performance aboard the fleet-hoofed mare Hello M’Lady, he snatched the €155,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier presented by H&M by the tiniest of margins.
There were double celebrations when Ben Maher, the last British rider to win this prestigious class, back in 2011, finished 2nd on Diva ll, by just 0.12 of a second. Great Britain’s John Whitaker finished in the top five with Ornellaia after surviving a hard rub at the last fence in Round 1, to which the crowd gave him a rousing standing ovation.
On H&M Sunday at Olympia, it was appropriate that Belgian rider and H&M partner Nicola Philippaerts, whose father, Ludo, won this class back in 1988, was 3rd on H&M Harley vd Bisschop.
A start list of 35 saw 13 riders from eight nations go through to Kelvin Bywater’s ingenious jump-off track which hinged on getting the sharp angle back to a double on a blind turn and then clearing an upright fence on a curving galloping line.
“Kelvin did a great job,” commented Brash. “It was big and technical but, nowadays, the standard is so high that there are horses that will just skip round.”
Only five of the 13 riders achieved a double clear and German maestro Marcus Ehning, who could have spoilt the British party when last to go on Comme Il Faut, racked up a surprising 20 penalties.
American rider Laura Kraut, whose partner Nick Skelton was already en route to Birmingham for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, was 4th on Zeremonie and 61-year-old John Whitaker rode superbly to finish 5th on Ornellaia. Crowd favorite Lorenzo De Luca of Italy, who had already picked up two big victories this week at London Olympia, finished 6th with one rail down on Limestone Gray.
Olympia represents the eighth of 13 legs in the Longines FEI World Cup™ and Brash’s win elevates him 26 places to sixth in the standings. He’s now within sight of a place at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Omaha, USA, next April.
“I think I will target the FEI World Cup™ Final this year,” revealed Brash. “I don’t very often, because there’s such a full calendar, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong team of horses, some of which are back from injury now – including Hello Sanctos and Hello M’Lady.”
Of Lady Kirkham’s agile, nine-year-old BWP mare (Indoctro x Baloubet du Rouet), Brash commented: “She’s sharp, an exceptional jumper and very much one for the future. It was very special to win in front of a home crowd.”
Maher, the first rider to go clear in the jump-off, could perhaps consider himself hard done by, having set such an exacting standard, but his mare was returning to form and he said simply: “I would have been happy with 6th, quite honestly. Diva loves this show and jumped brilliantly; it’s just great to have her back. Congratulations to Scott – I couldn’t have done any more.”
See the complete results at this link.