Nick Skelton admitted he was relieved to get off the mark at the London International Horse Show at Olympia when scoring a brilliant win in the Christmas Eve Six Bar on John Hales’s young stallion Russel.

“Better late than never!” he quipped after emerging as the only rider in a seven-man jump-off to jump clear when the final bar was raised to 6ft 4in.

Nick was hoping to gain some more World Cup points this weekend on Arko, but he thinks the stallion, also owned by John Hales, needs a break.

“He’s just a bit jaded now, but I’m pleased with Russel. He’s made all the right progress now and is gaining experience.”

Both stallions are going to stud for AI in Germany in the spring.

Leading rider in the show is currently Germany’s Marcus Ehning, but the prizes have been spread evenly around the nations. Last night Gert-Jan Bruggink, one of the youngest riders at the show, scored for Belgium in the Moondarra Ivy Stakes.

Four British riders are in with a chance in tonight’s final of the Mitsubishi Motors Ride & Drive — Mark Armstrong, Paul Barker, Andrew Davies and Guy Williams — in which first prize is an Outlander 2.4.

A Connemara, Vanessa Campton’s Castle Comet, has won the NPS/Baileys Horse Feeds Mountain & Moorland Supreme Ridden Championship. The pony is a former champion at HOYS and has now been retired from the show ring.

Vanessa also won the Gordon Winter Perpetual Trophy for the rider of the champion pony — the trophy is presented in memory of Country Life writer Gordon Winter.

Reserve was a Welsh Section B, Northlight Galliano ridden by Danielle Waterhouse.

A further celebration took place today when Horse & Hound correspondent Ann Martin was honoured with the Ryan’s Son Trophy. This award is presented by the Whitaker family in memory of John’s great horse Ryan’s Son, a silver medallist at the Los Angeles Olympics, to someone who has made a great contribution to the world of show jumping.