Jessica Mendoza achieved one of her career aims by winning a senior international class at Olympia as she lit up the London International Horse Show.
Riding her 2015 European Championships horse and Rio Olympics hopeful Spirit T, 19-year-old British star Mendoza proved unstoppable in the Longines Christmas Cracker.
Although 14 combinations made the jump-off, Mendoza and Switzerland’s former world number one Pius Schwizer proved a class apart, before Mendoza edged home in a time of 31.43 seconds, 48 hundredths of a second in front of Schwzier and PSG Fortune.
Essex-based Laura Renwick was third on Bintang II, clocking 33.09 seconds, with France’s former European individual champion Kevin Staut fourth aboard Qurack de Falaise.
Mendoza has already helped the Great Britain team secure qualification for Rio and secure runners-up spot at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona this year, but her first Olympia international win will always rank highly on her list of career achievements.
“I have always said that I wanted to have an international win at Olympia,” Mendoza said. “This is my first time doing the international classes here. I am very pleased.”
Mendoza pulled off a stunning turn early in her jump-off round that saved considerable time, and she added: “Everyone else was so quick, and that was the only place on the jump-off course that you could beat them on time.
“I just had to risk it. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but when I took off, I knew I was okay.”
Mendoza was also among the challengers in the Christmas Speed Stakes, but she had to be content with fourth spot on Sam de Bacon.
Holland’s Jur Vrieling, riding Arezzo VDL, took the class in a time of 56.78 seconds, just eight hundredths faster than in-form Frenchman Simon Delestre, riding Stardust Quinton, while Mendoza’s Great Britain team-mate Ben Maher took third on Boomerang.
Image: Jessica Mendoza and Spirit T, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the London International Horse Show at Olympia