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Kittel crowned king of Kensington

last updated on December 14, 2017 11:13

Kittel crowned king of Kensington

Thirteen years after he last visited the London International Horse Show at the iconic West End venue Olympia and finished dead last, Swedish rider Patrik Kittel will take happier memories home tonight as he proved a popular winner of the FEI World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse and Hound. Riding his own and Carol & Andrew Oatley’s 11 year old Delaunay OLD, Patrik rocked to Guns ‘n’ Roses to score 80.56% when second last to go.

Last night’s Grand Prix winners Edward Gal ad Glock’s Zonik had held the lead until then with 79.34%. The nine year old Blue Hors Zack sired stallion just let the tension creep in for a few errors and just didn’t quite have the fluency of the night before however the potential for stardom is clear to see!

Last to go for the home side was Emile Faurie who finished fourth yesterday with Elena Knyyaginicheva’s Delatio. It was their first ever Freestyle together and Emile later admitted to never having ridden the floorplan to music before tonight. They entered the packed arena with little expectation as it was a new experience but they well and truly delivered. The new partnership had clearly learned more about each other in a ‘safe’ qualifying test last night but could up the ante tonight and 80.4% was the score; one a few British riders to break the magic barrier at Olympia.

Patrik was certainly sporting the widest smile in the whole of London afterwards and it was quite emotional for him. He said, “I love this horse! He finds it all so easy. It’s a difficult test but he just was cruising tonight; he just plays with it. Thirteen years ago I came here and was dead last but to come back and win is so emotional. It’s proof that if you work hard, you can achieve anything – it’s such a cool feeling.”

A plus 80% score wasn’t on Emile’s radar this evening; “It’s not a surprise…it’s a miracle! You dream of moments like this,” he exclaimed. “I’ve waited for a good horse to come along and now I have a whole string – I can’t thank the Kasselmann’s enough. Delatio doesn’t have a lot of mileage on the clock and there’s definitely a few more percent in there. He’s such an awesome trier and he really wants to do it. One of his strengths is his incredible concentration and temperament. Anyone who thought of writing the Brits off when Valegro retired can think again!” he added.

Edward was very upbeat about his third spot at one of his favourite shows; “There were too many mistakes tonight. We had errors in our one time changes and pirouettes and he was a bit more tense. He’s not used to a crowd like this and there’s nowhere else like it. I try to give my best here as the crowd really appreciate it but it’s been a great learning experience for Zonik. He needs to grow into the Grand Prix work but he has an exciting future ahead,” he explained.

A further three Brits occupied the top seven rankings. Lara Butler smashed her new Dire Straits floorplan with the Bechtolsheimer’s Rubin al Asad. The routine was packed with difficulty and the only lapse was a very onward-bound final extended trot to score 76.98%. A few more outings and it’ll be an 80% plus test.

Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite were back to their best doing what they love to score just 0.3 less for sixth. ‘Squeaks’ grew and grew in confidence. Hayley said that he just wasn’t with her yesterday but he was back to form tonight. Careful planning reaped great rewards for Richard Davison and Gwendolyn Sontheim’s Bubblingh when they finished seventh in their biggest test to date with 75.65% to their music which Richard says is ‘one for the kids’ as it’s full of modern tunes.

Despite a bit of time away from competition, Gareth Hughes made the decision to increase the difficulty of his floorplan with Steve and Anne Keen’s Don Carissimo but still with his great music from the Hollywood blockbuster Australia. It was a gamble and a few nerves crept in as the atmosphere affected ‘Darcy’ for a score of 72.33% and 13th place. But the duo will have learnt much about each other on their trip to London and 2018 is full of promise for them, and our other five riders who have really put their names on the Selectors’ watch list ahead of the World Equestrian Games in September.

For full results – click here

Audio interview with winner Patrik Kittel - click here

Audio interview with Emile Faurie - click here

Photo c Tanja Davis