Two ex-eventers, a working hunter and a 17-year-old gelding: meet Windsor’s eclectic puissance stars

  • An eclectic assortment of horses reached the fifth and final round of the Martin Collins Enterprises puissance at Royal Windsor Horse Show on Thursday (11 May).

    Five of the seven combinations who lined up to tackle the big red wall made it through to the final barrage where the wall towered to 2.12m (7ft), and what a diverse quintet of horses and riders they were.

    British rider Derek Morton was one of two to clear the lofty wall in the final round to share the spoils, a repeat of his performance last year, also on the 12-year-old gelding KBS High Quality. The horse is a former working hunter and despite contesting the Horse of the Year Show puissance last year with Mennell Watson in the saddle, he and Derek haven’t jumped a puissance since this time last year.

    “I had a fall last July and broke my hip, so this is only the second time I’ve ridden the horse since,” says Derek. “We’ve had him since he was a six-year-old. I originally went to look at him as a working hunter, but he’s got a big jump, so is perfect for this. I’m very lucky.”

    The winner of that puissance at HOYS, clearing 2.19m, was former Olympic eventer Commandant Geoff Curran of Ireland riding the Minister for Defence and Maurice Cassidy’s Bishops Quarter, and the pair shared top spot after also clearing 2.12m. Bishops Quarter interestingly shares the same sire as KBS High Quality – OBOS Quality. The 16-year-old gelding also finished second in the puissance at Dublin Horse Show and previously enjoyed an eventing career with his rider, competing to three-star (now four-star) level.

    “He finds jumping big very easy,” says Commandant Geoff Curran. “He’s very brave, talented, scopey and honest – he will never say no.”

    Royal Windsor puissance: ‘The most terrifying thing I’ve ever done’

    Finishing equal third in a real case of David versus Goliath, just toppling a top brick in round five were Nici Wilson, riding in her first ever puissance with another former eventer, the 12-year-old Guaranteed Quality.

    “It’s amazing and I’m so pleased to have done it but it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done,” says Nici. “He doesn’t owe us anything – we’ve had him since he was three years old so he’s done a lot and given us a lot of fun. I started him as a five-year-old and actually we didn’t get on as a duo. He evented with my sister Helen, then I found myself back on him jumping and actually we’ve bonded as we’ve gone on. He’s very cool – he has his own opinion about life but he’s fun.”

    Sharing the third-placed prize-money was the youngest rider in the field, 23-year-old Joe Stockdale, who was a last-minute replacement for William Funnell. Joe was back in the saddle on the 12-year-old Dublon, who actually left his stable last week and he says he was “really pleased with the way he jumped”.

    Completing the top five in Royal Windsor’s puissance was Britain-based Frenchman Dan Delsart riding the veteran horse of the class, the 17-year-old British-bred gelding Granby, who has become something of a six-bar and puissance specialist in his senior years.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a more diverse field of competitors in a showjumping class!

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