Trio of puissance favourites clear 7ft 2in to share Bolesworth victory

A trio of puissance stars shared the top prize in an electrifying class at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.

Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker, Alfie Bradstock on H. d’OR and Ireland’s Michael Pender with Hearton Du Bois Halleux all cleared 2.20m (7ft 2in) in the five-round class to split the Equitop GLME puissance win on 14 June.

All three combinations already have major puissance victories under their belts, but for Holly and the versatile 11-year-old gelding this completed something of a “grand slam”. The pair have now won all four of Britain’s top international puissance classes: Liverpool CSI4* (2017), Olympia CSI5* (2016), Horse of the Year Show CSI3* in 2016 and now Bolesworth CSI4*. They have also had victory over Arena UK’s big wall as well as success in a wide range of class types, from finishing second in last year’s Hickstead Derby, to winning the HOYS speed horse of the year title in 2017, plus grands prix triumphs.

“I’m pleased — glad he took off and left it up!” laughed Holly. “It is quite special for these horses that do it over and over again. A lot do it once or twice, but these seem to come out and keep doing it. That is special.”

A beaming Alfie had a slightly sticky moment in the first round, but the striking grey went on to produce four further easy jumps over the wall, clearing the 2.20m final with ease.

“Going in after Holly in every round you think ‘oh god, she’s going to go through to the last round’, so I kept trying to keep up with her,” said Alfie, who was the joint winner of the 2018 HOYS puissance and finished third at Olympia with the eye-catching grey.

Michael, 19, looked as cool as ice as the 12-year-old Nonstop gelding put in five foot-perfect jumps to share the top prize.

“My horse jumped brilliant, I’m delighted with him as he jumped it quite easily,” he said.

This is the pair’s third major puissance win in a year, having shared the win at both Dublin and Liverpool in 2018.

The quality of the eight-strong class was clear from the outset, with all competitors making it over the 1.80m starting height and through to the second round.

The course builder hiked the bricks up by 10cm, with Murray Mcleish and Edelboy V.D. Renger choosing to retire after a stop. Puissance debutant Will Fletcher and Sam W cleared the second round in style, but chose to end on a high and withdrew ahead of the third round.

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Nick Benterman and Cartobet made it to round four, leaving five combinations to go through to the final.

Crowd favourites Joss Williams and the firey chestnut mare Culmore Prospect had four fantastic jumps, however it was not to be at the final wall for this pair today.

“She is absolutely everything to me,” said an emotional Joss of the 19-year-old mare. “I had never jumped bigger than foxhunters before I bought her.

“She is my best friend.”

Ireland’s Nano Healy and Kms Clintland completed the five finalists, producing an impressive performance across the class, with the Irish sport horse just clipping the top white bricks with his front legs to drop them to equal fourth with Joss.

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