Horse & Hound’s coverage of the Liverpool International Horse Show is brought to you in association with

It went down to the wire in the final class of the Liverpool International Horse Show tonight (3 January). Billy Twomey took the grand prix with an authoritative round aboard the ever-competitive Diaghilev.

The horse, who was bred in Britain by owner Terry Payne, has not competed at a major show since taking the leading showjumper of the year title at the Horse of the Year Show in October. Billy admitted the gelding was fresh on the first day of the show (1 January) having not done much over the Christmas period.

Billy felt the Vangelis S son was “unlucky not to win” yesterday’s feature class; the last fence fell in the jump-off when they were up on the clock. He was thrilled with his win today, as were his “happy owners and happy children.”

Despite almost a third of the 31 competitors staying clear in the first round, Kelvin Bywater’s track caused plenty of trouble. Four combinations came to grief with refusals at the fourth fence, a vertical jumped at the far end of the arena, away from the collecting ring.

In the final round, Robert Smith set an early target on Bavi, punching the air as he shot into the lead with the first clear in the 10-strong jump-off. The 11-year-old Balou Du Rouet x Caretino mare certainly impressed in this class and is one to watch for the future.

The jump-off was won or lost on the turn between the second and third fences; an oxer on a right-handed turn back to a tall vertical. Runner-up John Whitaker took fence two at an almost unbelievable angle with the promising Ornellaia (pictured below), before making a great turn back to the vertical to lay the challenge down for the six riders remaining riders.

Liverpool International Horse Show on 03 01 2016

Billy said he did not watch John’s round, but when it came to his turn he “chanced the double” before riding an absolute flyer to the last fence, and told H&H: “thank God he picked up at the last – I think I’d still be out there if he hadn’t!”

The Nottingham-based Irishman was also full of praise for the whole event, telling H&H: “I’m blown away by the show, and Nina [Barbour, show president] and Alan [Beaumont, show director] deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve achieved here.”

Sell-out crowds and super-slick production have resulted in overwhelmingly positive feedback for the inaugural running of the CSI4* show here in Liverpool, which looks set to return in 2017.

Don’t miss the full report in Horse & Hound magazine, out 7 January.