France’s Eugenie Angot saved the best to last at the London International Horse Show, winning the £50,000 Links of London Grand Prix ahead of runner-up Britain’s Tim Stockdale. Another female rider, Italy’s Jonella Ligresti-Bonomelli took third place with Switzerland’s Beat Mandli in fourth and John Whitaker and new ride Casino in fifth.
A technical, up-to-height first round course foxed the majority of the 33 starters. Only eight riders qualified for the jump off, with just Tim Stockdale (Cortaflex Corlato) and John Whitaker (Casino) flying the Union Jack. Tim Stockdale held the early lead, jumping clear in 39.43 sec, but there was no stopping Eugenie Angot once she had the Grand Prix within her sights. The audience watched in awe as she galloped Cigale de Taillis to the last jump off fence, clearing it with inches to spare and stopping the clock on 37.01 sec – more than two seconds faster than Stockdale.
“They’ll have to risk every inch now to beat that,” said Geoff Billington from the commentary box. And as top riders John Whitaker and Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst knocked poles in their determination to beat Angot’s time, Billington’s words rang true. Not one of the remaining five riders came close to stealing her lead.
Angot’s win marks a spectacular end to one of the most exciting Olympia’s to date. In a presentation by the Duchess of Cornwall, she accepted the Grand Prix title – the first time France has done so since 1991 when Roger Yves-Bost finished first on Norton Du Rhuys.
Germany’s Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst was crowned leading rider of show while Britain’s John Whitaker was honoured as best British rider.