The Longines FEI World Cup leg at Olympia saw a win for Great Britain’s Scott Brash on Hello M’Lady – the first time a Brit has won the home leg of the World Cup series since 2011.
Five years ago it was Ben Maher and Tripple X who last took the title for Britain, but this year Ben had to settle for second with the brilliant but sensitive mare Diva II.
Thirteen combinations made it through to the jump-off after Kelvin Bywater’s tricky course caught out most of the 35 starters.
But even though the second-round start list boasted some of the sports’ biggest names, clear rounds were pretty hard to come by, with the first six riders to go all faulting.
Ben Maher gave the crowd its first clear, setting a time of 38.85sec that looked pretty difficult to beat.
The USA’s Laura Kraut finished clear but more than half a second slower, with next to go John Whitaker finishing another seven-hundredth of a second behind the American rider – before Nicola Philippaerts for Belgium) pushed them both down a place with a time of 39.05sec.
If anyone could better Ben’s time, it would be the ultra cool-headed Scott Brash. A perfectly-judged ride on Hello M’Lady saw Scott marginally up on the clock as he galloped down to the last and he crossed the finish line just 0.12sec quicker than his compatriot.
Only Marcus Ehning could prevent a British one-two, but the German’s horse became unsettled and picked up an uncharacteristic 20pen to miss out on a placing.
It was Scott’s first World Cup win here at Olympia, and indeed the first major British win at this year’s show.
“Ben’s round was very fast so we all had to be incredibly quick if we were going to be able to beat him,” said Brash.
Speaking about his 10-year-old bay mare Hello M’Lady, Scott added: “She is a sharp, sensitive mare with a fantastic brain. She just loves going fast and sometimes I have to contain that. She’s already an exceptional horse but I hope there’s even more to come.”
The 31-year-old Scotsman now has the FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Omaha in his sights.
“It’s not a competition I’ve targeted in the past – the calendar is so busy these days you need to have enough good horses. I’m fortunate enough to have a strong team, and Hello Sanctos is now back from injury.”
Second placed Ben Maher said if he was going to be beaten by anyone, he’d rather it was Brash, his London 2012 gold medal winning team mate.
“Congratulations to Scott – I don’t think there was anything else I could have done better,” he said.
His was a superb round with the 11-year-old chestnut mare Diva II, who fights to get to a fence but cleared each of them with ease when she got to them.
“It’s great to have her back on form again,” Ben added.