Puissance specialists set a new record, clearing 7ft 3in: ‘I didn’t expect this’

  • Two puissance specialists set a new Bolesworth record by clearing the red wall at 2.21m (7ft 3in) in the fifth and final round.

    Guy Williams and Elaine Annis’s Mr Blue Sky UK — probably the most prolific puissance combination of all time — and Elliott Smith and Flamboyant III, a previous joint-victor, both stayed faultless to share the €5,565 (£4,706) first prize at the Bolesworth International Equestrian Summer Festival, presented by Al Shira’aa.

    A bumper field of 12 combinations — including several first timers — had come forward to brave the red bricks and the horses were jumping so impressively that eight were still in to contest the fourth heat.

    But the wall at 2.15m (7ft 1in) proved key, and only three went forward into the final round.

    First to jump was Guy’s 18-year-old daughter Maisy Williams, whose eye for a stride had been enviable as she rode the versatile Dalton D’Hoyo on flawless trips to the wall in each round.

    But the 15-year-old gelding, with whom she won the puissance at Arena UK last year, over 2.05m, didn’t quite make the height and nudged out a white brick.

    Guy had said in earlier rounds that Mr Blue Sky was fresh and strong and he had been struggling to keep hold of the 15-year-old grey. He approached the wall with the horse’s head slightly to one side but a few strides out, he lost momentum and it briefly appeared as if they might bail on the attempt.

    But that would be an underestimation of Guy’s skill and this horse’s scope, as somehow, from a near-standstill, he just popped over 7ft 3in.

    “He’s been a bit difficult tonight,” said Guy, who won this class for the third year and whose record with the horse was clearing 2.24m in Rouen. “He hasn’t done much for a while and he was trying to jump it too well. He finds it so easy.”

    “I was hoping for a family win!”

    Guy was also impressed with his daughter’s performance.

    “I’m very proud of Maisy,” he said. “I was hoping Elliott would knock it down so we could have had a family win!”

    Elliott Smith and Flamboyat III after sharing the Bolesworth puissance spoils.

    Elliott Smith and Flamboyat III after sharing the Bolesworth puissance spoils.

    The focus was all on Elliott to see if he could make it a draw. He’d also had to be tactful in his approach, and brought the horse back to walk before picking up canter a few strides away.

    The 14-year-old gelding jumped perfectly, never looking like touching a brick, to lodge another puissance win — and beat the previous Bolesworth puissance record by 1cm.

    “It feels amazing and the horse loves Bolesworth. I couldn’t find a better show for him to come to. It was definitely on my schedule for this year to come to Bolesworth and jump the puissance, but I didn’t expect to break a record,” he said.

    You can read the full report from this year’s Bolesworth International in the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine (dated 13 June) and this Thursday’s issue (in the shops 20 June).

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