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A glorious British victory for Holly Smith and her 'lionheart' horse at Royal Windsor

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Holly Smith and Fruselli winning the King's Cup at Royal Windsor Horse Show

British supporters finally had a very good reason to celebrate at Royal Windsor Horse Show on Saturday as Holly Smith and the brilliant Fruselli triumphed after an epic three-way battle to land the prestigious 1.55m CSI5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup on Saturday evening (14 May).

This was Holly’s second victory in the class after she collected the silverware with championship horse Hearts Destiny in 2019. But she admits her ambitious challenge in Saturday’s jump-off came from a sudden “rush of blood to the head”.

“Fruselli is just the most genuine horse and all credit to my owners Su and Gordon Hall,” said Holly. “He’s trying his best to fill the gap that Hearts Destiny has left. So for him to win the same class that Hearts Destiny did two years ago is amazing.

“At the first rollback [in the jump-off] I was too tight really – and then I did plan to take a stride out, but only about half a second before! I had a rush of blood to the head and thought ‘Sod it, I’m going’!”

Just eighteen riders lined up for this, the fourth CSI5* jumping class at this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show, and the first-round track caused all sorts of problems resulting in a slimline jump-off consisting of only three clean-jumping combinations.

The pathfinder going into battle for the €6,375 first prize was Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca riding Poden Farms 10-year-old stallion Cash Du Plessis, who has been produced by Emily Moffitt’s team for the past six years. The pair laid down a serious target, remaining clear in 33.63sec.

The cheers then rang out for Holly Smith as she returned with the 12-year-old Fruselli, once a phenomenal speed horse, who has stepped up so impressively in recent years to become one of the country’s greatest assets on the five-star circuit.

Showing such willingness over this lofty 1.55m track, he and Holly absolutely motored through the finish well over a second faster than the Italian.

The crowd at Royal Windsor Horse Show held their breath as the final rider entered the arena, Belgium’s Abdel Said on the speedy mare Casalor and, despite a thrilling assault at Holly’s leading time, they stopped the clock in 33.31sec to take second.

“Fruselli is just one of those lionhearted horses who does whatever I ask him to do,” said Holly. “He’s hitting the highest level.”

David Will (Primus Vom Neumuehler Hof) and Trevor Breen (Toyger) were back in the ribbons, taking fourth and fifth respectively with just a time-fault apiece in round one.

  • Don’t miss all the action from Royal Windsor Horse Show with Horse & Hound, both online and in next week’s issue of the magazine, in the shops on Thursday, 19 May.

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