Ireland’s Dermott Lennon was fulsome in his praise for Loughview Lou-Lou after the pairing proved to be the cream of the crop at Gijon this evening when taking victory in the five-star Grand Prix after a thrilling jump-off which also involved Cian O’Connor and Good Luck, writes Mike Dunne.

A delighted Lennon said afterwards that the 14 year-old mare, owned by Judith Sossick, had been hinting at a big performance all week. “Lou-Lou really deserves this win – she’s in great form,” he said tonight. “She jumped a really good first round today which gave me all the confidence I needed for the second round.”

Lennon and O’Connor were among the nine who stayed clear out of 45 starters in the opening round on the tough 1m60 course which saw 5 retirements. Twelve progressed altogether including two four-faulters and one with a single time fault. Unfortunately for Anthony Condon and Aristio, who had a single pole down in the opener, they were three places off the cut-off for the four-faulters.

Having produced the fastest clear in the opening round, Lennon was last to go in the decider. O’Connor was fourth of the twelve in the order and set a very quick pace with Good Luck but hit the last fence for four faults in 56.60. It did put them in the lead at that point, and it lasted until sixth-to-go Claudia Gisler of Switzerland produced the first double-clear on Cordell, though their time of 66.37 looked unlikely to be sharp enough with six still to jump.

Dutch rider Sanne Thijssen then sharpened the target marginally to 66.25 with Con Quidam Rb, but it was third-last Abdel Said of Egypt who really upped the stakes when knocking more than ten seconds off the lead, coming home clear on California in 55.94.

French rider Bernard Briand Chevalier had a worthy effort on Quadillac du Heup, slotting into second behind Said in 56.94, until Lennon and Loughview Lou-Lou topped the lot at the end, coming home in the clear in 55.07.

“I went in the ring to win and thankfully it all worked out,” said Lennon.