The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix provided an exhilerating finale to a fantastic week at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. With 12 riders through to the jump-off, the lead changed several times throughout the class, with Italy’s Alberto Zorzi coming out on top ahead of Harrie Smolders in second and home favourite Michael Whitaker in third. Harrie’s second place was enough to secure his Leading Rider Award, having already won and been placed earlier in the week.
Alberto Zorzi’s Olympia debut ended in the best way possible, with a superb victory in The Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix, the first win in the class for an Italian rider, on Athena Onassis’ Contanga.
Dutchman Harrie Smolders crowned a great year with second place on Zinius, propelling him to the top of the Leading Rider of Show table. Michael Whitaker, the winner two years ago, gave the home crowd something to cheer about with third place and a fast double clear on Jb’s Hot Stuff.
Twelve horses went through to the jump-off but only five jumped double clear, including fourth-placed Maikel Van der Vleuten from the Netherlands on Dana Blue and Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander on the ride that took her to third in the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Leg, Inca Boy van T Vianahof.
Alberto said of his 13-year-old mare Contanga: ‘I think she is the best horse in the world, very scopey, very special. The feeling over a fence is amazing. This is an amazing indoor show. I love the Christmas atmosphere and am so happy to be here.”
Ben Maher finished sixth on Winning Good, only an eight-year-old but clearly a talent for the future, enough to put him second in the Leading Rider rankings. Laura Renwick, another who looks to have some promising up-and-coming horses, was fourth and John Whitaker, the hero of Sunday night, was seventh – all excellent results considering the overseas talent that came to Olympia this year.