France’s Penelope Leprevost is having and excellent first visit to Olympia. Riding King Solier she won £14,000 in the Renault Christmas masters when she was the only rider to remain clear after five rounds.
The class is open to the top five leading riders after the first two days’ competitions, excluding the puissance.
The field included four Brits — Ellen Whitaker (CS Online), William Funnell (Kepi D’Elle), Robert Whitaker (Udo DV) and Geoff Luckett (R Little Lefanie).
Riders in the masters choose a fence to be raised in the first round once the course has been jumped cleanly, which Ellen did from first draw. Once all of the six fences have been raised, remaining riders then elect any fence they wish to be raised. If the course is jumped clear, the value of the winner’s purse increases by £500. If not, the choosen fence is lowered and the prize fund remains the same.
After two rounds, all the competitors were still in the game, but France’s Philippe Le Jeune (Mozart Des Hayettes) and William Funnell both had fences in the third.
Robert Whitaker elected not to jump his young horse over the rapidly rising fences in round four, while another Frenchman, Kevin Staut (Pinball 4) and Geoff Luckett both had fences.
This left just Ellen and Penelope to contest the fifth and final round. The first and fourth fences fell for the previous night’s puissance joint-winner but Penelope’s son of Narcos cleared all six fences immaculately to take the substantial first prize.
“He’s in great condition and just didn’t get tired,” said Penelope, who is based in Deauville, Normandy.
Despite winning such a large prize, Penelope was more excited with her adrenalin buzz.
“I don’t jump for the money, I do it because I love it,” she said. “I wasn’t at all nervous, just excited.”
Philippe Rozier claimed a second win for the French in the Tom Hudson eraser stakes with Ideal De Roy. He pinched victory from long time leader Geoff Luckett (Brickfield Boy).
“My horse is very quick across the ground,” said Philippe, who was recording his 32nd international victory this year with the chestnut gelding.
German rider Alois Pollman-Schweckhorst dashed Britain’s hopes of a win for a a third time by winning the strong Martin Collins Santa stakes with Paul Schockemohle’s Chacco-Blue. He beat William Whitaker (Carnaval Path) by just 0.39sec.
“I’ve been riding him for exactly one year and he’s getting better and better,” said Alois.
But, William Whitaker, joint-winner of the puissance with his cousin Ellen, saved the day for the Brits by winning day’s opening speed stakes with Johnny Greenwood’s versatile mare It’s Super Girl.
“I share the ride with Michael,” he said. “She’s a really useful horse who can do a variety of classes and is naturally quick and sharp.”
Stay in touch with all the action from Olympia on Horseandhound.co.uk throughout the show and don’t miss H&H’s show jumping reports in 25 December issue (on sale 23 December) and 1 January issue (on sale 2 January).