The invitation was not issued until Hughes arrived with her horses on Thursday night. 'I'd been trying to get in for the last month, but it was only when I turned up that they told me I could compete,' she said.
Her horses had been travelling in Trevor Coyle's lorry from Italy, via Glasgow (where Hughes had been given another late acceptance before her win on Monday) and then to Wembley.
Coyle might have been reconsidering the wisdom of this arrangement last night, having been a split second behind Hughes when he was runner-up on Cruising.
Mark McCourt, who won the Woodhouse International Stakes, had not expected to be competing here either. He had sold Rossport Aquila to his girlfriend, Holly Jackson, in April and his best horse, the mare Lapaz, had died.
'Holly only discovered that Aquila was qualified for this class a week before the show started, so she suggested I should ride him,' McCourt said. He was quickly back into gear with his old partner, defeating Robert Smith on Premier by 1.91secs.
HORSE OF THE YEAR SHOW (Wembley Arena): Woodhouse International Jumping Stakes: 1 Rossport Aquila (M McCourt, GB) clear, 46.58sec; 2 Premier (R Smith, GB) clear, 48.49; 3 Fahrenheit (E Gundel, Ger) clear, 53.38. Under-21 Jumping Championship: 1 High Flyer II (J Dennis) clear, 35.96sec; 2 Woodlands Clover (E Edwards) 4 faults, 32.43; 3 JJ II (S Bowen) 4 faults, 34.86. Masterlock FEI Dressage Grand Prix: 1 Bo (S Rothenberger, Neth) 1625pts; 2 Arun Tor (F Eilberg, GB) 1583; 3 Virtu (E Faurie, GB) 1580. Snowflake International Jumpimg Cup: 1 Flo Jo (M Hughes, Irl) clear, 25.47; 2 Cruising (T Coyle, Irl) clear, 26.45; 3 Everest Showtime (N Skelton, GB) clear, 26.97. IPE International Speed Stakes: 1 FAN Sky View (E Macken, Irl) 46.38; 2 Benjumin II (W Clarke, GB) 46.66; 3 Tip Toe (J Fisher, GB) 47.13.Reuse content