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The Equo Events Speed Stakes (2 January) was a showdown from start to finish, with Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci taking top honours aboard Casallo Z, a 12-year-old stallion by Casall. Although usually his grand prix ride, Piergiorgio entered the horse in this class after the stallion was “a bit shy to turn and to jump” in the previous night’s jump off.

“My horse needs to train a little bit more in the turns,” Piergiorgio explained, “but he did a great job.”

This continues a great run of form for Italian riders at the inaugral running of the Liverpool International Horse Show, following Emanuele Gaudiano’s win in the first international class of the show yesterday.

Britain’s queen of speed, the indomitable Laura Renwick, took second spot with the hugely promising nine-year-old Heliodor Hybris (pictured below), whom Laura rates as a top horse for the future.

Liverpool International Horse Show on 02 01 2016

“He was very nervous last night, but he gave me a great ride today and allowed me to ride him.”

The horse impressed riders and spectators alike when competing in the CSI5* classes at Olympia in 2014 as a seven-year-old, and has improved ever since – “he’s a real asset to me, and I think he’ll go on to bigger and better things,” Laura told H&H.

Reflecting on the show, Laura said: “Nina Barbour [show president] has done an absolutely wonderful job, it’s a real plus for our sport.”

It was testament to the Italian’s speed that Laura was over a second adrift of the winning time – despite Piergiorgio not focusing on the win with the horse he will aim at the grand prix tomorrow night (3 January).

There were problems scattered around the course, with both Guy Williams and Emanuele Gaudiano parting company with their mounts as a result of refusals.

Laura set an early target with Colin Bates’ talented chestnut, and fences fell everywhere as riders tried to catch her – several coming to grief at the penultimate fence, an oxer into a double, while on track to match her time. Piergiorgio capitalised on a late draw to swoop into the lead with five horses left to jump.

British hopes were then pinned on Nicole Pavitt, who had her foot to the floor with Victor Blue, but dropped into eventual sixth after lowering the second-last fence, despite shaving 2.4 seconds from the winning time.

The class was sponsored by Equo, the new online events entry system brought to you by Horse & Hound. H&H also sponsors tonight’s 1.50m class, available on the live stream here from 9.15pm.