German star Toni Hassmann stole the show on Olympia’s final day, when he won no less than three classes, including the Sony Ericsson Grand Prix.
But the 27-year-old had to pull out all the stops in this class, as the 11-horse jump-off was packed with quality and included some of the fastest horses in the world.
Toni’s compatriot, Marcus Ehning, had set the standard over the now huge course with his scopey chesnut mare, yet another top horse by the stallion of the moment, Argentinus, but Robert Smith, who followed him, set sail on the extraordinary Mr Springfield.
Jimmy McCloskey’s nine-year-old son of Western promise tried every inch of the way and they broke the beam in a time that looked hard to beat.
However, two horses later it was the turn of Toni Hassmann and Goldika. This little mare, who was third in the last World Cup final, is also renowned for her speed and their round was a joy to watch. Every turn came off and they broke the beam more than 1sec ahead to claim the £13,300 first prize.
“I’ve been waiting all week to hit form,” said a delighted Toni – and hit form he certainly did.
He had won the earlier Farewell Speed Stakes on the stallion Landstreicher, beating his compatriot Mylene Deidrichsmeier’s standard on Championesse D’Amazones, and also partnered Graziana to team up with Markus Merschformann (Gambe) and head a hard-fought Holly Pair Relay.
The Christmas Eve Six-Bar proved a real crowd-pleaser, with two riders going the full distance to share the top placing.
Franke Sloothaak, a specialist at these classes, was foot-perfect throughout on Sheila, as was Britain’s Andrew Davies, who has never ridden better on Huw Jones’s marvellous Captain Wellington.
And to finish one of his best-ever shows, Robert Smith took the Eurosport Lalique Trophy for the leading rider.
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Read full report of all the Olympia action in Horse & Hound on sale 2 January