Great Britain’s top showjumpers endured a frustrating afternoon in the Longines FEI World Cup at Olympia as Marco Kutscher and Daniel Deusser affected a German one-two.
Huddersfield’s Robert Whitaker led the British challenge, finishing fourth on this year’s Royal Windsor Grand Prix winner Catwalk IV, while his father John and Argento were six places behind after a 13-horse jump-off.
But it was otherwise a tale of what might have been.
Britain’s world No 1 Scott Brash had the last fence down in round one aboard Hello Sunshine, with his fellow London 2012 Olympic team gold medallist Ben Maher (Diva II) and Michael Whitaker (Viking) both jumping clear, but each incurring one time fault.
The Germans were not to be denied, as Kutscher secured the winner’s purse of £32,000 on Cornet’s Cristallo, with Deusser (Carriere) less than a second behind and Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Tornesch) third.
Robert Whitaker – drawn first to go in round one and the jump-off – posted an impressive time of 40.49 seconds, but Kutscher, Deusser and Baryard-Johnsson all went faster.
“The last few shows, Catwalk has been jumping really well,” Yorkshireman Whitaker explained.
“The course really suited him, although the time was always going to be tight when you are drawn first to go.
“I am a bit sick of being drawn first. It is a bit annoying. But I wouldn’t have changed anything in terms of my plan.”
Kutscher was a late call-up for the London International Horse Show following his fellow German Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s withdrawal, and he made the most of his opportunity in thrilling fashion.
“Once I was in the jump-off, I knew I would have a good chance, and it worked out very well,” Kutscher said.
“I didn’t have a perfect jump-off, but when my horse is focused he can do everything.
“I hoped we had gone quickly enough, but Daniel is such a fast rider that I wasn’t sure.”
Deusser only brought Carriere to London after two of his other horses suffered injuries, but it proved to be a master-stroke.
“I really wanted to come to this show,” Deusser said.
“I rode him last Tuesday morning, then put him on the truck to come here on Tuesday afternoon.”
Ahead of the weekend’s action, Irish showjumper Bertram Allen lit up Olympia by claiming a thrilling victory in the Christmas Speed Stakes.
Last to go among a 31-strong field, 19-year-old Allen had it all to do after Belgian Constant van Paesschen clocked 59.92 seconds in the one-round class on Ralphy Utopia de Ransbeck.
Allen did not disappoint as he claimed the £4,700 winner’s purse with Wild Thing L, jumping clear in 58.16 seconds.
Allen, who finished seventh individually at the World Equestrian Games earlier this year and was runner-up in the Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead, is among the sport’s hottest properties.
“It definitely wasn’t effortless,” said Allen, who claimed the Christmas Masters on board Billy Twomey’s bay stallion Aminko N on Saturday.
“Constant had set a really fast time, so we had to give a lot to beat him.”
Germany’s Daniel Deusser had earlier won the opening international class after staving off Swiss rider Martin Fuchs and a strong British challenge.
Deusser clocked a winning time of 32.71 seconds on Soory de l’Hallali to land The Levy Restaurants Snowman Stakes, with Fuchs 1.2 seconds behind aboard Uzo van het Hobos Z.
British star Maher was third on Wings Sublieme, with home riders also filling the next four places – Tim Gredley (Unex Arantos), William Whitaker (Glenavadra Brilliant), Michael Whitaker (Cassionato) and Robert Whitaker (Zantos II).
The new-style competition saw riders placed into seven groups, and the best of each group went through to a jump-off.
“It’s a different sort of class because you can go clear and still not get through to the jump-off, but it’s fun to do something different,” Deusser said.