Edward Gal stormed to grand prix victory for The Netherlands on the first night of dressage at the Olympia Horse Show CDIW.
Edward claimed an early lead with 76.68% riding the hugely expressive Blue Hors Zack stallion Glock’s Zonik, who at nine years old was competing in just his third international grand prix.
It went some way to make up for the nightmare journey he had to London in adverse weather conditions, eventually driving all the way after a number of cancelled flights.
“It was worth the trip! He’s a great horse for the future and I was really happy with him tonight,” said Edward. “I just felt him coming back a little, so I sometimes rode perhaps more forward than usual.”
Having also endured a mammoth drive to reach Olympia, Sweden’s Patrik Kittel made a late bid for the win, with an excellent performance aboard the 11-year-old Dr Doolittle gelding Delaunay OLD, his partner at this year’s European Championships. They slotted into a well-deserved second with 75.1%, just ahead of Dutch rider Madeleine Witte-Vrees, who posted 73.72% with Cennin at her first Olympia.
The best Brit of the night was Emile Faurie, who produced a classy test aboard Delatio, a horse he has only ridden in two grands prix to date. The 13-year-old De Niro stallion is a real head-turner and he scored 72.86% with a mistake-free performance from first draw.
“I was absolutely thrilled and I really enjoyed it. He just has so much ability and elasticity. I rode quite carefully tonight as I don’t know him well yet – it was a bit conservative,” said Emile, who will ride his first freestyle on this horse tomorrow. “I’ve only ridden it through once at home so it’ll be a proper freestyle!”
Denmark’s Anders Dahl finished fifth with Selten HW, just fractionally ahead of Britain’s Lara Butler riding the Bechtolsheimers’ Rubin Royal 15-year-old Rubin Al Asad, who posted 72.66% with a neat, rhythmic test, just marred by a small error in the two-time changes.
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The line-up features a host of champions, including some home crowd favourites
Gareth Hughes slotted into seventh with Don Carissimo, with whom he travlled to Gothenburg this summer as part of the British team, before the Don Crusador gelding had to be withdrawn due to an injury sustained just before the start of the competition. They produced a fluent, attractive performance here for 72.64%.
Richard Davison finished eighth with a very hot Bubblingh, while Hayley Watson-Greaves was 13th on Rubins Nite, after an unfortunate costly mistake in the one-time changes.
Don’t miss the full report in the 21 December issue of Horse&Hound magazine.