‘Exciting for everyone else, terrifying for me!’ Olympic eventer to tackle London puissance

  • Olympic eventer Gemma Stevens joked that she has been “slightly railroaded” into taking on her first puissance at the London International Horse Show – on her Hickstead Derby ride.

    Gemma and Envoy Merelsnest Z are among those who are to tackle the red wall, and the six-bar, at the ExCel this month, the showjumping entries for which have just been confirmed.

    Gemma told H&H the idea “sort of” came from Shirley Light of Brendon Stud, who bought the 10-year-old half-brother to Don VHP Z as an embryo and owned him until this month.

    “She rang and said they were looking for people to do the puissance and that I should do it; I said ‘I’m terrified’!” she said. “When I told [husband] Gary, he said ‘You need to grow a pair and get on with it’, so I feel I’ve been slightly railroaded into it! But I’m going to give it a go.”

    Gemma said “Dime Bar” arrived at her yard yesterday (30 November).

    “Amazingly, he’s here; we managed to get the Dime Bar Syndicate together,” she said. “Shirley has been amazing; there’s still 25% of him available but he’s ours, and it’s really exciting.”

    Dime Bar has jumped one puissance, with Phillip Miller at Horse of the Year Show this year, but it will be a first for Gemma.

    “I went down [to Brendon Stud] yesterday and we jumped some big fences in the indoor, and I’ll go back probably on Monday and we’ll jump a wall,” she said. “God knows what it’ll be made of but Shirley’s resourceful! Then we’re going to go to Paul Gaff’s as he’s got a proper wall and it’s indoors; I think I need to practise more than the horse does!

    “The puissance will be on the Friday, which is probably a good thing as I can get it out of the way and then enjoy my weekend. I’m much less worried about the six-bar; if we have a bit of luck, I think he could do well in that as he can jump a really big vertical but the puissance scares the crap out of me! I’m going with no expectations.”

    Gemma said Dime Bar is a delight to have on the yard.

    “I still can’t believe I did the Derby, but he’s such a funny character,” she said. “He’s a stallion but you’d never know as he’s so polite; you could put him in a pen with six mares and he’d look away as if he wouldn’t think about that naughty stuff.

    “He’s the safest, sweetest horse ever, very sensitive to ride, in a nice way, and scared of everything – apart from big jumps. He’s a real poppet, who wants to be loved.”

    Gemma said her plans for next year may include a few weeks at the Sunshine Tour, and “absolutely” another crack at the Derby – once she’s got London out of the way.

    “It’s exciting for everyone else but terrifying for me!” she said.

    London horse show showjumping entries

    The stellar London showjumping entries list also includes Ben Maher, on Faltic HB, Ginger-Blue and Point Break, and last year’s grand prix winners Matt Sampson and Ebolensky. Matt also brings Fabrice DN and Daniel. Scott Brash, who won the World Cup leg last year with Hello Jefferson, brings Hello Folie, Hello Mr President and Hello Valentino. John Whitaker is entered on Equine America Unick Du Francport, Sharid and Lui, and his son Robert with Vermento, Chatondo and Evert.

    Jodie Hall McAteer brings Hardessa, Kimosa Van Het Kritrahof and Itoulavsca Fortuna, Harry Charles is entered on Casquo Blue, Romeo 88 and Billabong Du Roumois and Joe Stockdale brings Ebanking and Millfield Counterfeit. Lily Attwood is entered with Cor-leon VD Vlierbeek Z and Karibou Horta, and Tim Gredley with Medoc De Toxandria, Imperial and Tres Bien Z. The one-horse British riders, who will contest the puissance and six-bar, are Mark Edwards, Paul Gaff, Nathan Bull, Sebastian Hughes and Joe Trunkfield.

    They will be challenged by a star-studded line-up of foreign riders including Max Kuhner, Julien Epaillard, Kevin Staut, Marcus Ehning, Daniel Deusser, Shane Breen, Conor Swail and Lorenzo de Luca, as well as Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat.

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