British-based Irishman Billy Twomey and Diaghilev produced a breath-taking round to win the Equestrian.com grand prix at the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show for the second year running.
“My horse brought some decent form to the show; he’s very competitive and always looks for the next fence. He was sharp everywhere tonight, particularly to the third fence,” said Billy.
With a high class 10-strong field contesting the jump-off, and three major turns to pull off, it was always going to be a case of who dares wins. Billy was spot on everywhere, with a full on gallop to the last securing a 1.5sec winning margin over William Whitaker and Utamaro D Ecaussines (Uta).
Interestingly, after Diaghilev lowered two fences in the speed class on the first day, Billy entered him in the puissance a few hours later, where the Vangelis S 13-year-old easily soared over 1.9m (6’3”) before calling it a day.
“I gave him a day off yesterday and he’s repaid me with a super performance tonight,” concluded Billy.
William Whitaker was equally delighted with Uta, who was a former Nations Cup and championship ride for Joe Clee.
“He’s a fairly new horse for me. This was our first major outing and he didn’t lower a rail in his five rounds.
“He knows what he’s doing and we just got stuck in,” said William.
Speed king is show’s leading rider
With two wins in speed classes already to his credit at the show riding SL Brazonado and Cayenne WZ, German rider Felix Hassmann became the undisputed speed king and leading rider of the show as SL Brazonado registered a second victory in the 1.45m competition on the final afternoon.
The Munster rider only had to crouch forward and drop his inside hand and his Brazilian-bred neat jumping 12-year-old grey curled round to make some very acute turns.
“When I tried him in Brazil six years ago he was then already sharp and unbelievably careful and he loves to jump going forward,” said Felix, who was delighted to register his first winning hat trick at a ranking show.
The pace was ramped up still further in a thrilling knockout competition where the victors last time Chloe Aston and Amigo T successfully defended their title by outpacing Guy Williams riding Casper De Muze.
“That was so nerve wracking,” said Chloe.
For a full report on the rest of the show, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 5 January