Ireland’s Cian O’Connor continued his success at Olympia, following up his first-day win in the welcome stakes with Umberto by taking the Santa stakes with Splendour 2.
“It’s always good to back up a win in the first class with a decent win later on in the week,” said Cian. “It’s no good if you have a drought for the rest of the week.”
And the win in this Rolex World rankings class, which came after a 13-horse jump-off, marks the end of Cian’s partnership with the 11-year-old gelding.
“He was sold to Egypt’s Amed Tallit in September, but he allowed me to keep the ride until Christmas,” said Cian, who has a history of success over the years at Olympia. “I can’t get upset about it though. It’s just how the business works and I’m thrilled that the new owner will be getting a horse that is a winner.”
Heavy snow in the morning had perhaps made it a little too festive outside, but despite a couple of coach loads of sell-out ticket holders not being able to make it to London, the Grand Hall was still filled with a noisy up-for-it crowd.
They were able to cheer on Britain’s Laura Rewnick to a thrilling bonus victory in the winner-takes all Renault Christmas masters with Oz De Breve.
After four rounds, and with a first prize at 15,000euros, three riders remained. Last to go, Laura attacked the five-fence course and galloped over the big final oxer with Oz De Breve, beating Dutchman Marc Houtzager’s time on Uppity by 0.5sec.
“[My husband] John told me I had nothing to lose so I had to just go for it,” said Laura. “I came round the corner and saw a stride to the last so I just went.”
She had further reason to celebrate later in the day when she headed the Christmas tree stakes with Limelight De Breve. These victories make her joint second with Cian on the show’s H&M leading rider table, just one point behind Britain’s Ben Maher.
Wild-card riders Jemma Kirk (Wexford) and Matt Sampson (Utopia XII) justified their places in the Team Murka/World Class Programme under-23 championship by jumping the only two-double clears of the class.
Jemma just pipped Matt, who is based in Belgium, as last to go on course.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Olympia horse show, on sale Thursday 23 December