The programme started with the Longines Classic, in which six jumped off for the £3,000 prize. Because three of them were Britons, the crowd was hopeful of a home win, but after John Whitaker (Hugo Du Heup) and Nick Skleton (Russel) both faulted, everything rested on Tim Gredley and a fresh-looking Omelli.
With team manger Derek Ricketts assessing his performance, Tim did not go mad and although Omelli jumped a super second clear, the time was beatable. This was proved by the next to go young Dutchman Vincent Voorn, who, despite almost losing his way, took the lead by almost 0.5sec.
Next to go was Germany’s Thomas Voss, who was jumping here for the first time. And he certainly made the most of his opportunity, flying round and taking fences on angles to finish another 4sec ahead. This proved good enough to win when Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost had a stop on Jalis De Riverland.
Thomas has owned the 11-year-old Leonardo B for four years and has used him mainly in big classes. “He has a great temperament. he likes it here and so do I,” said 47-year-old Thomas.
For a long time, it looked as though the Irish would take the first three places in the Sky Sports Speed Classic. Despite lowering the final fence, Shane Breen held the lead on his eventing grand prix winner Mullaghdrin Gold Diamond, with Cameron hanley slotting into second on Charming Fox.
But three from the end, their team-mate Cian O’Connor produced a great round on the British-bred Carnaval Drum mare, Zanoubia, who moved ahead by 5sec. Roger-Yves Bost challenged strongly from final draw, but his time on Kire Royal Star was good enough only for second place.
“She’s brave and super careful,” said Cian of Zanoubia, whom he bought in September last year and has since partnered to several international victories.
“But that was the best so far,” he added.