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Holly Smith on top form to be crowned Olympia leading rider

Even by her own high standards, Holly Smith has had an Olympia, the London International Horse Show to remember. She began the show with a win and finished it under the spotlight as leading rider.

Holly could not have been more consistent. Every one of her horses had top placings and she had already confirmed her position as top rider before she finished third in the grand prix.

Holly was leading the points table at the start of the penultimate Turkish Airlines speed stakes, a competition with seconds added instead of faults.

Although Italian rider Emanuele Gaudiano set an unbeatable target from an early draw on Carlotta, a mare with more than 60 wins this season, second place with Ian Dowie’s Denver, a former eventer who started his showjumping career this year, was enough to confirm Holly’s leading rider award.

“I was originally going to jump Denver in the grand prix, but I swapped him into this class because we thought that a good placing might keep me on top,” she explained. “He’ll probably do the grand prix at Liverpool, where Hearts Destiny will be his back-up horse.”

Britain’s best under-25s

Jodie Hall McAteer gave the credit to her horse Salt’n Peppa after a brilliant round from first draw of the five-horse jump-off made her the new Voltaire Designs British under-25 champion.

“It’s the highlight of my career so far and I’m so proud of my horse,” said the 19-year-old from Hertfordshire after pushing the winners of Friday’s qualifier, Georgia Tame and Quintella, into the runner-up spot.

Salt’n Peppa is Jodie’s top horse. She partnered him on her first senior Nations Cup team this year, but she has a simple ambition for 2020.

“I just want to enjoy myself and have fun at shows,” she said.

Continued below…



Hot junior competition

The 12-hour journey back to Aberdeen will feel much shorter for the family of 12-year-old Millie Lawson, who jumped a round even World Cup winner Martin Fuchs would have been proud of to win the Equine Rescue Services mini stakes on Priestwood Hardy.

The 16-year-old former working hunter pony came to Millie in January after doing nothing for a few years and has given her a wonderful final season in 128cm classes, with highlights including fifth place at HOYS.

Millie was riding to her father David’s instructions in the thrilling six-pony jump-off.

“I told her to turn into the second last and then just gallop,” said the former event rider.

Millie, who has trained in the past with Swedish event rider Ludwig Svennerstall, did just that — but she certainly had to. Tabitha Kyle had set the pace with an equally stirring round on Living The Dream and Millie beat her by the blink of an eye.

Priestwood Hardy has already been sold and Millie will have her final ride on him at the Liverpool International, but she has vowed to return to Olympia.

“I want to win the World Cup here,” she said.

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