Guy Williams underlined his reputation as a speed merchant, whether on the back of a horse or behind the wheel of a car, when he won yesterday's first heat of the Mitsubishi Motors Ride and Drive at the London International Horse Show at Olympia. With a car worth £17,000 on offer as first prize in Monday's final, the principal aim in yesterday's contest was to gain points towards qualification for the showdown, but it was also a source of satisfaction for Williams when he won by a convincing 3.54sec margin.
Williams has filled the top two places in two such contests this year - at Norfolk and the Kent County Show - whizzing round a show jumping course before leaping into a car and driving through a course of cones. Yesterday he was riding Onyx, who has a wonderfully consistent record since moving to his Folkestone yard just over a year ago. "He's so versatile he's unbelievable," Williams said of the 13-year-old, with whom he won five classes on the Spanish Sunshine Tour in the early spring.
Onyx then knocked himself in his stable and had five months off, but he has come roaring back to win all six of the classes he has contested since his return. He was nevertheless beaten on speed in the riding section by 18-year-old Ellen Whitaker, who raced round the course in record time on Henri de Here, only to drop back when her inexperience as a driver (she passed her test only eight months ago) showed with a slow round in the car.
Beat Mandli, of Switzerland, won the earlier Welcome Speed Stakes on Principal. He defeated Robert Smith, who has won three cars this month in the process of becoming leading rider at both Belfast and Geneva shows.
LONDON INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW (Olympia): Welcome Speed Stakes: 1 Principal (B Mandli, Swit) 51.04sec; 2 Kalusha (R Smith, GB) 51.17; 3 Cabri d'Elle (S Smith, GB) 52.30. Mitsubishi Motors Ride and Drive (First heat): 1 Onyx V (G Williams, GB) 70.68sec; 2 Rex (M Armstrong, GB) 74.22; 3 Arielle (P le Jeune, Bel) 75.83. British Equestrian Writers' Association Awards: Equestrian Personality: L Law. Vivien Batchelor Trophy for Outstanding Young Rider: B Maher. Liz Dudden Trophy for Contribution to Equestrian Sport: Y Breisner.