Meet the 15.1hh speed horse who turned his hand to puissance – and won

  • “Who would have thought – puissance specialist Catoki?” says US showjumper McLain Ward of his legendary 15.1hh speed horse, who turned his hand to the big, red puissance wall at the recent Washington International Horse Show and ended up sharing the spoils.

    The wall was raised to 1.95m (nearly 6ft 5in) for the third round of the $25,000 puissance class where the three remaining contenders, McLain with the diminutive 12-year-old Catoki, Daniel Coyle on Imar and Brazilian Santiago Lambre riding The Diamant Rose Z, all faulted.

    However, as you can see from the video below, the trio agreed to return for the fourth and final round where all jumped clear and the winner’s purse was split.

    (Click “Watch on YouTube” to see this video)

    All three horses were making their puissance debut, but for pint-sized Catoki it was a radical departure from his normal routine as he’s better known as a renowned speed horse on the international circuit, and had even won the previous day’s accumulator at the show, held at Tryon, North Carolina.

    “He’s 15.1hh and he’s a speed horse,” stresses McLain. “We thought we’d maybe jump a couple of rounds. Honestly, he was jumping it easy and felt very in-hand.

    “I saw a couple had trouble in that third round and I really over-rode it. I was a bit upset with myself. So when we had the opportunity to go again, he jumped it beautifully.

    “We’re all a bunch of top, competitive riders and the horses were doing it pretty handily,” he adds. “It was worth a try.”

    McLain’s co-victor, Irishman Daniel Coyle, hadn’t jumped in a puissance for four years, last contesting one in Dublin.

    “I wasn’t nervous, but I felt old going in!” he says. “The crowd loves it, so it always makes it better for us, no matter what happens.”

    Of Ariel Grange’s promising eight-year-old Imar, he explains: “He actually doesn’t jump walls particularly well. Usually when you do it once or twice, you get a little more confident.”

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