In a show packed with British winners, it was Frenchman Julien Epaillard (pictured) who took the top honours at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) at the weekend.
The French rider secured the leading showjumper of the year grand prix, held in Birmingham last night (Sunday, 12 October).
Julien and Cristallo A LM delivered the only double clear of the competition.
22 riders contested the class — with six going to the jump off — but the pair’s time of 39.76s clinched the title and £13,300 prize money.
“For me, this is a very nice experience,” said Julien.
“It is my first indoor show with the horse this year, and maybe we will go to the World Cup in Lyon after this.
“The atmosphere is amazing here, and I hope I can come back next year. I love the show.”
Crowd favourite John Whitaker — who last won the class 20 years ago — had to settle for second aboard Argento after having a pole down.
However, thanks to solid performances throughout the show — including a win in the Horse Radar Stakes — the Yorkshireman took the leading British rider award of HOYS.
Egyptian rider Abdel Said took third in the leading showjumper grand prix while up-and-coming British showjumper Daniel Neilson finished fourth with Varo M.
The leading showjumper of the year class began in 1950, when Lieutenant Colonel Harry Llewellyn and the legendary Foxhunter were its first winners. Past winners include Pat Smythe, David Broome, Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken, Nick Skelton and John Whitaker.
For full report don’t miss this week’s H&H — out Thursday 16 October.