The 19-year-old Spaniard Manuel Anon riding Rackel Chavannaise trounced a distinguished field to win the Earls Court Olympia Christmas Cracker, most important jump-off class of Olympia so far.
Though the course was big, 13 of 35 starters qualified for the barrage. European champions Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Ninja la Silla went first, but rolled a pole trying to set a fast standard. Three of the four British, Laura Renwick (Roller Coaster), Ben Maher (Tripple X) and Guy Williams (Titus) all faulted at an influential double away from the entrance.
Then Marcus Ehning jumped the first double clear on Sabrina and Malin Baryard-Jonsson equalled the feat on H&M Tornesch but a fraction slower after taking one extra stride to the final upright.
Anon then jumped fabulously to lead by 0.25secs and held on as last-drawn Peter Charles beat the time on Odie de Frevent, but incurred four faults flat out to the last.
Anon, the 2008 junior European champion, has only visited Britain twice before.
“Olympia clashes with the La Corunna five-star and I’ve always gone there because it’s my home town,” said Anon. “I have wanted to come to Olympia since I was a little boy so to win is a dream come true.”
Pius Schwizer (Koby du Vartellier) and Guy Williams (Richi Rich) shared the Earls Court Christmas puissance, the only pair to clear 7ft 1in.
Laura Renwick retired Parvati de Breve after three rounds and Geir Gulliksen (L’Espoir) and Laura’s second ride, Roller Coaster, went out in round four at 6ft 11in
“My horse tends to get better from the third round on,” Pius warned earlier. “This is such a great show. The crowd and the commentators are fantastic.”
Earlier, Guy won the Talk Talk Mistletoe Stakes on Djakarta, spearheading a British hat-trick from Scott Brash on Sebastian and Ben Maher on Milena.
Don’t miss our full report on all the action from Olympia in next week’s magazine, on sale Thursday 22 December