An emotional Nicolas Touzaint dropped both reins and waved his arms in triumph after becoming the first French victor of the Badminton Horse Trials and collecting this year's record first prize of £60,000.
The hugely talented 27-year-old rider regarded this win on Hildago de l'Ile as just as important as his two European titles and the Olympic team gold medal that he won in Athens four years ago. "It's always been my dream to win here, but I could not imagine it would ever happen," he said.
With the marks desperately close after Saturday's cross-country, yesterday's showjumping produced a finale of toe-curling tension. The pressure was, admittedly, eased when the three riders who were less than a fence behind Touzaint made errors when competing, as usual, in the reverse order of merit.
But that short-lived breathing space disappeared when the Frenchman's horse removed a rail coming out of the double at fence seven. He kept his cool admirably, however, to finish without any further mistake, defeating two Britons – Lucy Wiegersma on Shaabrak and William Fox-Pitt on Ballincoola. Three more British riders – Sharon Hunt, Polly Stockton and Nicola Wilson – filled sixth to eighth places, giving the selectors plenty of choice as they meet to pick their Olympic team.
Zara Phillips, who was 16th on Glenbuck and 19th on Ardfield Magic Star, collected the Glentrool Trophy with the latter horse having advanced 57 places after the dressage. Phillips's Toytown, who was her mount when she won the world title, is being saved for the Olympics and he seems certain to be on the team when it is named this week.
Badminton Horse Trials final result: 1 Hildago de l'Ile (N Touzaint, Fr) 48.4 penalties; 2 Shaabrak (L Wiegersma, GB) 49.8; 3 Ballincoola (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 52.1; 4 Lenamore (C Powell, NZ) 52.8; 5 Tamkers Town (S Hunt, GB) 54.9; 6 Tom Quigley (P Stockton, GB) 59.7; 7 Opposition Buzz (N Wilson, GB) 59.8; 8 Bonza Puzzle (M Ryan, Aus) 60.3; 9 Hope Street (D Dick, GB) 61.3; 10 Fachoudette (G Davies, GB) 61.6.