France’s Philippe Rozier has put himself in pole position for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier at Olympia by winning the Christmas Cracker class which determines the draw for the main competition.

Rozier, 41, and a member of a famous French show jumping dynasty — his father Marcel won an Olympic gold medal at Montreal in 1976 — has been out of the limelight since representing France at the Sydney Olympics because he has been bringing on young horses. This is his first visit to Olympia for 10 years.

The clutch of youngsters includes his Christmas Cracker winner Heritiere d’Adriere, a nine-year-old bought six years ago at the important Fence sport horse sales in France.

Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa, already the highest placed Olympia rider in the Western Europe league for the World Cup rankings in eighth on 23 points, enhanced his chances of a record fourth victory in the final when finishing second in the Christmas Cracker Stakes. His mount, the 15-year-old stallion was Pessoa’s winning mount in all three previous final victories.

Pessoa, who only makes rare appearances at Olympia, has come specially to jump in the World Cup qualifier and Monday’s Grand Prix, part of a hectic weekend schedule which saw him leap straight on a plane for a competition in Spain tomorrow.

Robert Whitaker finished third on the mare Nicolette and best of the four members of his family riding in the same competition. His cousin Ellen was ninth on AK Kanselier while father John and uncle Michael, who is lying ninth in the World Cup standings, had four faults apiece.

Robert, 21, has yet to ride in a World Cup final or to score any points in the current series, which culminates in a final in Las Vegas in April, so will be looking to get off the mark on Sunday.

Britain’s Andrew Davies will be joining Guy Williams in the final of the Mitsubishi Motors Ride & Drive on Monday night after winning the second heat.