American Beezie Madden made Hickstead history as she won the Longines King George V Gold Cup for a second successive year.
But the closing day of this year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show also proved to be another important one in the showjumping career of rising British star Jessica Mendoza the 19-year-old, who is from Wiltshire, finished as leading British rider in fourth place.
But had it not been for a jump-off final fence knock down, then Mendoza would have taken the trophy and £46,500 as her time was three tenths of a second quicker than Madden’s.
Her performance, though, will inevitably give Great Britain team boss Di Lampard food for thought as she ponders her five-strong squad selection for the FEI European Championships in Germany later this month.
While the likes of London 2012 team gold medallists Ben Maher and Scott Brash are set to spearhead the British line-up, Mendoza might now have done enough.
Britain, despite winning the Olympic title at Greenwich Park three years ago, have yet to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and the Europeans in Aachen represent a final chance with three places to be filled from five potential challengers – Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain.
Mendoza said: “My horse is naturally quick, so I thought I would use it to my advantage. She has been jumping amazingly – I wish I could have another one like her.
“I wasn’t really that nervous but my dad was more nervous. He kept going on about how this was the most prestigious class and how he would love us to win it.”
Madden, meanwhile, had further cause for celebration 12 months after becoming the first woman rider to be crowned King George V Gold Cup winner.
The event, which first took place 104 years ago, had previously been an exclusive male domain in terms of its champion riders with previous winners including David Broome, Eddie Macken, Paul Schockemohle, Nick Skelton and John Whitaker.
But 51-year-old Madden has now become the first female to successfully defend the title – she again triumphed on 13-year-old bay gelding Cortes C – while the last showjumper to win successive Gold Cups was Italian Piero d’Inzeo on The Rock in 1961 and 1962.
“It’s quite an honour to win it back to back,” she said.
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