Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Beauvalais, who captured individual bronze at Athens 2004, won the Olympia World Cup qualifier last night with one of their best performances of their trademark kür to modern Spanish music.

A close second were British heroes Carl Hester and Escapado, (pictured competing at Athens) who scored a personal best of 77% with their “Here Comes the Sun and Fame” kür.

“That was the best ride I’ve ever had – I don’t think I could get more marks,” said Carl. However FEI dressage judge Mariette Withages disagreed, saying: “Well, I think you can!”

“The most important thing for me was that Peanuts (Escapado) was relaxed,” said Carl, who is now planning to concentrate on reaching the World Cup final in Las Vegas. “Everyone knows he can be hot, but since Athens, he’s matured so much.”

Beatriz enjoyed her victory in front of the 6,000 near-capacity crowd for Olympia’s first dressage World Cup qualifier.

“I had a very good ride,” said Beatriz. “Yesterday, we had some mistakes and Beauvalais was a little spooky, but today we were very much with the music.”

Chairman of the ground jury, Stephen Clarke agreed: “Beatriz gave a beautiful interpretation of the music – one of her best performances,” he said. “It was better than Strictly Come Dancing.”

Other highlights for the judges included the extended trot tours of third-placed combination from Germany, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff and Unicef-Wahajama.

Ann-Kathrin donates her prize money to Unicef – last year providing 110,000 euro for childrens’ education projects. She is also still heading the leader board for the World Cup.

“Wahajama loves the spectators and the crowd here were behind all the competitors – which as a real diva, she loved. But I don’t know if I will compete Wahajama or Unicef-Renoir at the final at Las Vegas,” she said.

Richard Davison and Ballaseyr Royale, members of the seventh-placed British team at Athens, captured fourth place.

Richard had earlier delighted the crowds with a “dressage masterclass” featuring a basque and suspenders-clad Geoff Billington, a former regular on the senior British show jumping team.

FEI World Cup Dressage Freestyle to Music Qualifier results Supported by The Berkeley Group and Horse & Hound

1. Beauvalais (Beatriz Ferrer-Salat) ESP 79.57;
2. Escapado (Carl Hester) GBR 77.17;
3. Wahajama UNICEF (Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff) GER 76.70;
4. Ballaseyr Royale (Richard Davison) GBR 73.97;
5. Amando (Gina Capellmann-Luetkemeier) GER 73.55;
6. Ludewig G (Lone Jorgensen) DEN 73.25;
7. Albano (Heike Kemmer) GER 73.05;
8. Gambrinus (Peter Storr) GBR 71.25;
9. Lorenzo (Wayne Channon) GBR 70.85;
10. Ratino H (Martina Hannover-Sternberg) GER 70.10.