Frenchman Julien Epaillard added his name to an illustrious honours list when he won the Leading Show Jumper of the Year Grand Prix at Horse of the Year Show on Sunday night. Julien delivered the 22-rider competition's only two clears - in round one and the jump-off - aboard the Casall-son Cristallo A LM to win £13,300. Their time of 39.76 seconds, despite going second of six jump-off combinations, provided a target that no-one else could match, including in-form British star John Whitaker.
John had to settle for second on Argento (Arko Iii x Gasper) after having one fence down, while Egypt's Abdel Said was third with Dakota (Cento Lano x Intermezzo) and Daniel Neilson fourth on Varo M ( Pierrot x Weinfurst).
The Leading Show Jumper of the Year class began in 1950 - Lieutenant Colonel Harry Llewellyn and the legendary Foxhunter were its first winners - while other champions down the years have included Pat Smythe, David Broome, Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken, Nick Skelton and John Whitaker.
"For me, this is a very nice experience," Julien said. "It is my first indoor show with the horse this year, and maybe we will go to the World Cup in Lyon after this. The atmosphere is amazing here, and I hope I can come back next year. I love the show."
Reflecting on his jump-off round, Julien added: "I was the second to go, and although I tried to go fast, I decided not to go crazy fast. I was a little bit lucky towards the end of my round in the jump-off, but I knew I had posted a good time."
Julien also took the HOYS leading athlete award on Cristallo, with John and Lord of Arabia second, Abdel and Dakota third and John with Argento fourth. But John's magnificent show was rewarded with him winning the Penwood Forge Mill Trophy for leading British rider, ahead of Nicole Pavitt, Graham Lovegrove and Chloe Aston.
Earlier in the day, Billy Twomey won the Vinopolis Speed Horse of the Year class on Ardcolum Duke (Gypsy Duke x Clover Hill).
Source: Press release from HOYS
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