The Netherlands’ Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Sunrise impressed judges at the London Horse Show, Olympia to win the FEI World Cup Dressage Qualifier. But their performance also appealed to the packed auditorium. As the pair trotted in time to the Blue Peter theme tune, British members of the audience couldn’t help but smile. “I was very pleased with Sunrise, she is getting more and more settled in her grand prix work,” Schellekens-Bartels said, after receiving a 79.55 pen score – their personal best.

A truly world class field graced the flood lit arena and the scores were painfully close. Germany’s Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht FRH took second place on 79.4 with Finland’s Kyra Kyrklund and Max in third. Laura Bechtolsheimer and Douglas Dorsey were the highest placed British pair on a score of 73.4, hotly pursued by Spencer Wilton and Dolendo with 72.2.

“I never expected to win here,” Schellekens-Bartels told HHO. “But I felt it was very good. Sunrise was really fresh and really happy.” Tonight’s victory has pushed her up to equal fourth position in the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League.

Laura Bechtolsheimer was also delighted with her score. “It’s my first competition since the World Cup,” she said, “I was ill for quite a while afterwards. Douglas Dorsey was extremely excited to be back.”

As well as showcasing world class dressage, the sporting career of a 14.2hh dressage pony was also honoured at Olympia this evening. Manitu N, a brown stallion owned by Mrs. Tracey Harrison was named KBIS British Equestrian Dressage Horse of the Year.

Manitu N took young dressage talents Maria Eilberg, Lorna Edmonds and Samanatha Harrison to European Pony Championship level, giving them invaluable experience of dressage at the highest level. The ceremonious removal of his saddle in the Olympia arena marked his retirement from competition.

FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier Results

1. Imke Schellekens-Bartels Sunrise 79.5
2. Isabell Werth Warum Nicht FRH 79.4
3. Kyra Kyrklund Max 76.4
4. Laurens Van Lieren Hexagon’s Ollright 75.35
5. Edward Gal Group 4 Securior I.P.S Gribaldi 75.05
6. Laura Bechtolsheimer Douglas Dorsey 73.4