Britain’s Guy Williams (Mr Blue Sky) and Frenchman Mathieu Billot (Dassler) shared the spoils in Olympia’s Cayenne Puissance, when they cleared the big wall at a mighty 7’4”/2.23m to equal the show’s modern record.
The winning duo came to London fresh from another joint puissance victory at Rouen four weeks ago, where they had jumped a fraction higher at 2.26m.
Guy has forged a brilliant track record in this class with the big grey Westfalian this year, also splitting first place at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with Alfie Bradstock (H D’Or) when they cleared 7’1”.
Dassler, formerly owned by Billy Twomey, also arrived with plenty of experience in the class, having won at Liverpool with Louise Saywell in 2017.
Four riders made it through to the fifth and final round, having all cleared the wall at 7’2”. Last year’s victors Laura Renwick and Top Dollar VI had jumped clean in the previous round but elected not to come forward again.
Joining Guy and Mathieu in the final showdown were Alfie, jumping very consistently with Darragh Magner’s huge-striding grey, and Karline de Brabander with her top horse, the homebred stallion Fantomas de Muze who was jumping here for the fourth year.
First into the ring, Alfie and the 11-year-old gelding had a good shot but just took out two white bricks from the top line. He was followed by Mathieu and Guy, who both produced flawless clears.
Last in, Karline de Brabander had been hesitant to enter her top horse in the final round, and while he had produced a beautiful, confident jump in the fourth heat, this time the 13-year-old stallion partially took off before saying no, tipping Karline off the back.
“They persuaded me to come in but I hadn’t realised how big it was going to be,” she said, confirming the horse was unhurt. “I think he was probably the smartest horse in it for saying no!”
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Guy said Mr Blue Sky’s recent performances made him think his horse could be a potential record breaker.
“Shane Breen said to me I should go for the record,” he said. “The thing with him is he just jumps it like it’s a normal fence.”
While the “high jump” record at Olympia was set by Nick Skelton and Lastic over 7’7 5/16” in 1978, Olympia’s record over the Puissance wall is 7’5 ¼”, set by Patric Caron on Gui Sanda in 1980. The record over the modern, lighter wall however is 7’4” inches, which was last jumped by John Whitaker, Robert Whitaker and Markus Fuchs in 2006.
Don’t miss H&H’s extensive coverage. Check out dressage and Wednesday-Saturday showjumping reports in the 28 December issue (out Friday, not Thursday this week because of Christmas schedules), while showing, driving and Sunday showjumping coverage will be in the 3 January 2019 issue.