Friday saw plenty of action across the jumping classes and absolutely packed grandstands for both the afternoon and evening performances at Olympia yesterday, Friday 19th December.
French rider Julien Epaillard seized an early lead in the 12-horse jump-off for the Longines Christmas Cracker, the last class of Friday night at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
Ben Maher, who was first to go in the jump-off on the chestnut mare Diva ll, jumped a beautiful steady clear round for 34.04 seconds. However Julien maaged to shave more than 2 seconds off his time to claim the title as his own.
The Longines World number one rider Scott Brash also made it to the jump-off but opting for a sensible clear on a young horse, Hello Sunshine, and finished fourth.
Deauville-based Julien, whose parents run an equitation centre in Cherbourg, said his horse Cristallo A LM, a 10-year-old by Casall, obviously likes England – the pair won the grand prix at the Birmingham CSI3* in October. Cristallo will be his ride in Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup qualifier.
“I was only third to go in the jump-off and knew there were a lot of dangers coming after me, but I also knew they would have to take risks to beat my time,” said Julien. “The atmosphere is incredible, and it’s not just for the English riders. You feel the public is with you.”
There may not have been a home winner yet, but Ben Maher has still taken a clear lead in the H & M Leading Rider of the Show table after being placed four times. He is on 39 points, 13 ahead of young Irishman Bertram Allen. Germany’s Daniel Deusser is third with 23 points.
Earlier, Irish teenager Bertram Allen became one of the youngest riders to win a senior class at Olympia when he snatched victory from the hands of Belgian Constant van Paesschen with an outstanding round in the Christmas Speed Stakes.
Daring rounds and audaciously tight turns were on display throughout the class, revving the packed crowd up, and 19-year-old Allen took full advantage of being last to go, riding Wild Thing L.
When van Paeschen, riding Ralphy Utopia de Ransbeck, clipped half a second further from the target it looked as though the class was won. It wasn’t as Allen twisted his way round the track to claw a further half second back.
The afternoon performance saw Daniel Deusser for Germany take first place with Soory de l’Hallali in the Levy Restaurants Snowman Stakes. Martin Fuchs for Switzerland took second with following five places taken by British riders with Ben Maher heading thee up in third place with Wings Sublieme. Hot on his heels were Tim Gredley, William, Michael and Robert Whitaker who took 4th – 7th place respectively.
H&M Leading Rider of the Show – London Olympia
- Ben Maher (GBR) 45 points
- Bertram Allen (IRL) 38 points
- Daniel Deusser (GER) 33 points
- Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) 31.5 points
- Jos Verlooy (BEL) 28 points
- Martin Fuchs (SUI) 26.5 points
- Constant van Paesschen (BEL) 25.5 points
- Jur Vrieling (NED) 22.5 points
- Scott Brash (GBR) 22 points
- Guy Williams (GBR) 20 points
Source: British Show Jumping