Billy Twomey lands the Liverpool grand prix for the third time
In an exciting edge-of-your seats jump-off, Billy Twomey lifted the 4* grand prix title at the Theraplate Liverpool International Horse Show for the third time in five years.
British-based Irishman Billy won the inaugural grand prix in 2015 and followed it up with victory in 2016 on Diaghilev and scooped the £26,000 first prize with Kim Barzilay’s home-bred Kimba Flamenco to round off 2019 on a high.
And it marked a remarkable record for Irish wins as either Billy or fellow British-based Irishman Shane Breen have won every grand prix since the show began.
An original 31 contended Irish course-designer Alan Wade’s testing track with six finding all the answers. Under the 25% rule, the six were joined by the two fastest four-faulters carrying their faults but they ultimately finished down the order.
Jack Whitaker, 18, belied his youth to provide the first double clear on the 10-year-old Elucar VE to briefly stand at the top of the podium. And Holly Smith had the crowd urging her on as she cut every corner to the bone on Hearts Destiny. But the front rail of the oxer going into the double fell and despite being the sole rider to break the 40 sec barrier, she dropped behind Jack.
Billy made no such mistake, skilfully guiding the Je T’Aime Flamenco/Heartbreaker 10-year-old into the top spot with almost two sec in hand. And although Guy Williams gave him a run for his money in the final draw with a couple of breath-taking big strides and tight turns, Rouge De Ravel tapped out the red post box vertical two from home and dropped to fourth behind Holly.
“To win the grand prix here three times is amazing,” said Billy, who was full of praise for his chestnut gelding partner. “He jumped fantastastic. He’s been close to doing something in the last couple of shows and it finally paid off tonight, I’m so delighted for the owner Kim and everyone involved in the team.”
Kimba Flamenco has been produced from Kim’s Buckinghamshire yard from the beginning by Emma-Jo Slater – his dam is Emma’s favourite and former grade A mare Uttah Van Het Indihof – and the pair finished fourth in the 2016 HOYS talentseekers final before Billy took over the reins shortly afterwards.
“He’s an extremely talented horse. He won a 5* grand prix in Falsterbo so he is winning at every level,” said Billy, who credited course-designer Alan Wade.
"The course builder is probably the best course builder on the planet. He made it difficult enough that it wasn't a giveaway to anyone. You needed to jump the course. It wasn't a rat-race. In the jump-off, I tried to put it up to the rest of the riders. Sometimes, when you go early, you don't really know, but thankfully I held on to clinch the win."
It was also a memorable night for Jack Whitaker in second on Elucar.
“The feeling he gives when he is jumping is unbelievable,” he said. “When he can get everything together like he did tonight, he doesn't touch a fence.”
Ireland’s Mikey Pender – on four faults from the first round – opened with a clear in the jump-off to take fifth on Verdict De Kezeg while young rider Jodie Hall-McAteer slotted Salt’N Peppa into sixth with just one mistake in the jump-off. Louise Saywell scored four in both rounds for a total of eight for seventh with Jalellah OL and Italy’s Emanuele Camilli – clear in round one – lowered two rails second time out to fill eighth spot on Jakko.
Chloe Aston landed the thrilling knock-out – where riders race each other over an identical side-by-side track – with her consistent long-time campaigner Amigo T. Her opponent Harriet Nuttall was slightly quicker with Silver Lift but a rail down added three sec to put her in the runner-up spot.
Guy Williams on Cupido and Ireland’s Daniel Coyle with Escadeur 6 finished equal third after losing out in the semi-finals.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around/courtesy TSM/LIHS