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Making only his second visit to Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), Mexican rider Jaime Guerra earned the title of leading showjumper of the year with the sole double clear on Utopias.

“I thought for sure they’d catch me as I’d gone at a good pace, but without losing my head,” said Jaime, who is based in Belgium.

In a nail-biting finale, both Nick Skelton (Big Star) and the Netherlands’ Wout-Jan Van Der Schans (P-Pilot) tied for second place with four faults in the jump-off.

Louise Whitaker, who earned her HOYS ticket through the wildcard system, sealed a tremendous week with fourth place on Dazzle II.

Frenchman Julien Epaillard rode an absolute scorcher to take top spot in the Vinopolis speed horse of the year. He was on long-term partner Commissario, a 13-year-old grey stallion by Cash.

“The course was brilliantly designed because you had to make the effort to think about what you were doing while walking the course,” said Normandy-based Julien.

“I think going too fast made horses tired for some of the later efforts to get over the fences. I had enough left to push him on to the last.”

Amy Inglis was crowned leading pony showjumper of the year with Crossword.

“I was first to go so my Dad [Duncan Inglis] told me to go quick, but not to blast round,” said Amy, who has ridden the 11-year-old gelding for a year.

Several horses struggled round the HOYS grade C championship first round track but the deserved winner was Louise Pavitt with prolific winner Don VHP Z.

“I wasn’t worried about going in there with him,” said Louise of the stallion owned by the Brendon Stud. “He won the six-year-old final in there last year and went well in the Foxhunter this year.”

Don’t miss our HOYS special issue, including over 20 pages of reports, analysis and comment, in Thursday’s magazine (13 October, 2011)