Once upon a time, Olympia was an excuse for riders to let their hair down, embrace the Christmas spirit and dress up in frivolous costumes in the annual fancy dress relay.

Many riders returned year after year — John Whitaker, we’re looking at you — to entertain the crowds with their antics in the saddle. Forget the World Cup qualifier, the battle to end all battles came down to who could produce the best costume.

We take a look back through the H&H vaults to bring you some of our favourite fancy dress moments…

1. Perfect Pocahontas: AKA John Whitaker in 1985. The Yorkshireman seems to be proudly showing off his boots but we’re more impressed by the ample bosom!

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2. Brace yourself for the Full Monty: Geoff Billington, John Whitaker, Nick Skelton and Michael Whitaker reveal much more than we’re used to seeing in their Chippendales tribute act.

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3. Suits you Peter Charles! The 2012 Olympic gold medallist dons his finest lycra in 1990.

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4. The resemblance is uncanny as Tim Stockdale dresses up as TV personality Paula Yates and partners Santas Echo over the coloured obstacles

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5. David Broome is barely recognisable alongside Harvey Smith — who finds a novel way to help him on the horse

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6. Surfer dude James Fisher lives out his Baywatch dreams in 1995…

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7. …where he’s joined by Pamela Anderson in her famous red swimsuit. No wait, is that really William Funnell underneath that blonde wig? It sure is!

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8. The late Joe Turi flies round the Grand Hall, Olympia, in fine style

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9. The name’s Goosen. Guy Goosen. James Bond 007 is licensed to thrill the crowds in 1995

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10. Marie Edgar unleashes her inner jockey and speeds round in her silks

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11. He’s back! John Whitaker once again — this time in his finest leopardprint outfit. Grrrrrrr

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12. And again — we know who would be the first to sign up, should the fancy dress relay ever make a comeback at Olympia. In this year, John Whitaker sports his conical bra in his Madonna tribute act on board the great (and long suffering) Randi.

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NB: H&H recommeds that all riders wearing suitable headwear while mounted.

This year’s Olympia Horse Show runs from tomorrow (13 December) until Monday 19 December 2016. Don’t miss our full report from the show in the 22 December issue of Horse & Hound magazine