Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker collected their second major big wall triumph of the season when they shared the spoils in the Cayenne puissance at Olympia with northern Ireland’s Chris Megahey (below).
Just the two riders tackled the fifth and final round, in which the wall stood at 2m15 — 5cm less than Holly had cleared at this year’s Horse of the Year Show.
On that occasion, 18-year-old Chris and his established puissance partner Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier had taken the runner-up spot when they took a brick in the final heat but this time both partnerships navigated the wall with just the lightest of taps.
Both Holly and Chris, who split the £12,500 first prize, were making their debut appearances at Olympia.
“I try and mentally take it in my stride and treat it as another show and don’t over-think it, if I got nervous I’d explode,” said Holly, who also plans to contest the puissance at Liverpool. “I’m pleased to be here.”
“When they invited me I was thrilled to get the call,” said Chris. “I’ve been coming here to watch for years.”
Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier, 14, originally tried his hand at eventing but his “terrible flatwork” saw him switch to jumping three years ago.
“A friend suggested I try puissance with him and I did my first one with him at Cavan when I was 15,” said Chris. “He goes round with his head in the air but I let him do what he wants as long as he jumps the jumps!”
The pair, who have previously triumphed over 2m15 at Cavan and 2m20 at Dublin, also plan to tackle the puissance along with the young riders at the Liverpool International this new year.
“He’s not just a puissance horse, he’s jumped a lot of rankings classes as well,” he added.
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Four riders had made it through to the fourth round: Norway’s Rebekka Lie Andersen and the 13-year-old Want To Do retired after having the first fence while Laura Renwick decided not to bring forward her incredibly scopey seven-year-old Top Dollar VI as he’d jumped so well that she “wanted to leave it at that.”