Athens Olympic bronze medallists Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and her Hanoverian Beauvalais won the grand prix at the inaugural Olympia World Cup qualifier last night supported by The Berkeley Group and Horse & Hound.

But it was Britain’s Olympic heroes Carl Hester and Escapado who captured the home crowd’s heart.

“Escapado is really beginning to take it all in his stride and competing is just another part of his life,” said Carl, of the horse who, in the past, took a lot of time to settle at shows.

They finished little more than 1% in arrears to the Athens bronze medallists to score 71.666% — their best grand prix mark in a major international competition.

On Sunday, they came second in the kür at CDI-W Maastricht, Belgium and Carl plans to compete at CDI-W Mechlen — a show which starts immediately after Christmas. Our current British national champion now has his heart set on a place in the World Cup final at Las Vegas in March.

The British pair is now in the “top set” in the sport by beating current World Cup Western European league champions Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff and her black mare Wahajama-Unicef.

For Spain’s Ferrer-Salat, her Olympia debut was the chance to make the most of London’s attractions: “I love London and I’m spending time in the city all day,” she said. “Beauvalais felt a little spooky, but it’s really enjoyable to be riding here”.

Fifteen combinations will go forward to tonight’s kür, and include Richard Davison (Ballaseyr Royale); Peter Storr (Gambrinus); Wayne Channon (Lorenzo CH) and Maria Eilberg (Two Sox).