Puissance night hit new heights at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show on an unforgettable record-breaking occasion.
A new Liverpool record height of 2.21 metres was attained by four different combinations after five rounds of jumping as the Hope Valley Saddlery Puissance reached a thrilling conclusion.
The top prize was shared by British challengers William Whitaker, riding Rmf Charly, Guy Williams on Mr Blue Sky UK and Harry Whall with Holly Smith's former ride Quality Old Joker plus Ireland's Mikey Pender aboard Hearton du Bois Halleux.
It meant a thrilling finale to day three in front of a 5,000-capacity crowd. And there can have been fewer finer collective exhibitions of power-jumping anywhere in Britain or Europe this year as one of equestrian sport's most traditional competitions once again took centre-stage.
The standard was set in round one when nine from 12 starters cleared the red wall. And such a blistering standard was maintained all the way through, with each winning rider collecting just over £2,000 and receiving a rapturous reception.
Ireland's Daniel Coyle delivered a victory that probably surprised even himself. Daniel had not ridden 11-year-old Donjo until this week, but it was never apparent as they convincingly took the Old Lodge Stud 1.50m.
Ten of the 29 starters accessed the jump-off but clear rounds were much harder to obtain in round two with a turn as sharp as you dare vertical as the final fence, which caught out several. William Whitaker – drawn late due to RMF Echo losing a shoe just prior to him entering the ring earlier in the class which was quickly replaced – supplying the first double clear.
The pressure was on last-to-go Daniel to deliver a quick clear to win but he made light work of it and came home with almost two sec in hand on the Zirocco Blue VDL/Ahorn gelding.
"I was lucky enough to be last to go. Everybody was trying to go really fast, and I was in the lucky position that I was able to wait until the end, so I knew what I had to do,” said Daniel.
"I don't really know the horse. I rode him here for the first time, and he has been brilliant all week.”
Daniel explained how he acquired Donjo.
"I ride for some Canadian people, and they had the horse with a different rider and the partnership wasn't going well. I said I was coming over here for Christmas. I said I could jump the horse here, and it was decided to give it a go. It fell into place more than it was thought of, so that's how I ended up riding him,” he said.
"From what I can tell this week, he has been very grumpy in the stable, which is very strange, because out of the stable he is like a gentle giant. And I think that's a little bit of his character when you are riding him as well.”
William settled for second place on RMF Echo with Australia’s Rowan Willis in third after providing the fastest time of the class but with a rail down on the 12-year-old Cartouch III – produced in Britain by Mark Turnbull. Jack Whitaker rode Scenletha into fourth with Harriet Nuttall (Night of Glory OL) and Lily Attwood (Karibou Horta) also on four to take sixth and seventh.
James Wilson provided a good double clear in the 5* 1.50m grand prix in Mechelen, Belgium, on Imagine De Muze to take fourth place.
Fourteen of the 41 starters accessed the jump-off with James and Susan Larson’s Nabab De Reve/Chin Chin 11-year-old finishing 1.18 sec behind the winner, Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels on Delux Van T & L. Four faults in round one kept David Simpson out of the jump-off and he took 16th on Gentleman VH Veldhof.
And James featured in the Longines FEI world cup qualifier sponsored by BMW. Twelve of the 36 starters posted round one clears to access the jump-off but four faults dropped James and Imagine down to 10th spot. Germany’s Daniel Deusser took the win on Killer Queen VDM by an impressive 2.65 sec over Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer on Cortney Cox.
Emma Stoker clinched fifth in Sunday’s 1.45m speed at her first 5* show. Forty-one contended this class with Emma and the Eldorado Van De Zeshoek 10-year-old finishing 1.69 sec behind the winner, Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr on Casanova De L’Herse. James eased Eskola M into eighth.
James slotted Eskola into sixth in Saturday’s 5* 1.40m speed, the Singapore 10-year-old 3.54 sec behind the winner, Italy’s Eugenio Grimaldi on Scara Mouche. Emma was also clear in the 48-strong class for 20th on Kontador VDM.
David reached the 17-horse jump-off of Monday’s 1.45m but a rail down dropped Jenson 55 down to 11th. One time fault denied Emma and Kontador a chance in round two and they finished 18th.
Red Morgan guided Bodyssee Des Avelines into third in the initial FEI pony 1.30m speed more than four sec off the pace. Ella Quigley was also clear to take 10th on Rock Dee Jay. The final fence in the first round of Saturday’s 1.35m fell for Ella to 12th.
Ella featured in the final day’s 10-pony decider in the FEI pony grand prix but 13 faults put Rock Dee Jay into ninth. Red and Bodyssee incurred four faults in round one for 11th. Ireland’s Alex Finney claimed the win on Still Go Me – an eight-year-old produced to the top in Britain by Chloe Templeton until she went out of ponies in 2018.
After finishing 12th in Saturday’s young rider 1.30m two-phase, Red and Kwikly went on to take seventh in Sunday’s young rider 1.30m speed.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around/courtesy TSM/LIHS