Scott Brash and Ben Maher took first and second place in the Longines qualifier at Olympia this weekend.
Brash became the 15th British rider to come out on top in his home leg of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping series with Hello M’Lady.
The result leaves the 31-year-old rider only a few points short of a qualifying spot for the eagerly anticipated Longines Final in Omaha, Nebraska next March.
The host nation runners were in flying form, with Brash’s London 2012 Olympic gold-medal-winning team-mate, 33-year old Ben Maher, finishing a close second with Diva II.
Young Belgian talent, 23-year-old Nicola Philippaerts slotted into third with H&M Harley vd Bisschop.
It was a frustrating result for Maher, who was also runner-up in the same event last year. “I wanted to win, but if I was going to be beaten by anyone I was hoping it would be Scott!” he said.
There were 13 into the jump-off, and it was Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson who set the pace with H&M Cue Channa who hit only the very last fence.
Seventh to go, Maher produced the first clear in 38.85 seconds before America’s Laura Kraut with Zeremonie and John Whitaker with Ornellaia followed with foot-perfect runs, but neither pairs could catch Maher.
Philippaerts, whose famous father Ludo won this prestigious competition with the legendary Darco 27 years ago, came close when breaking the beam in 39.07 seconds, but it was Brash who demoted his fellow-countryman when second-last to go.
“Ben was very fast back to the double, and it was on a blind turn, which was tricky for the horses, so we had to be quick to beat him!” Brash said, after galloping home in 38.73 seconds.
He added: “It’s very special to win in front of the home crowd, they were really behind us and it gives you that extra edge!
“I’ve never really targeted it in the past because the calendar is so full and there’s often a championship, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong team, all coming back from injury, including Hello Sanctos.”