Hickstead Derby winner and puissance first-timer share Olympia spoils

  • Britain’s William Whitaker guided puissance first-timer RMF Charly to an impeccable joint victory at The London International Horse Show, Olympia, sharing the spoils with Ireland’s Michael Pender and his Hickstead Derby victor Hearton Du Bois Halleux.

    Three combinations went the full five rounds, with last year’s joint-winners Mr Blue Sky UK and Guy Williams also making the final cut, where the big wall reached 7’2” (2m 18cm).

    All three combinations had jumped fantastically throughout, with Caroline Phillip’s 10-year-old grey gelding and Guy repeatedly drawing gasps from the crowd as they gave the triple bar feet to spare in each round.

    But in the final showdown, the exuberant son of Chacco Blue just trailed his toes behind to bring down a brick and leave the remaining two riders to vie for the £12,150 first prize.

    William and the 10-year-old RMF Charly had been foot-perfect throughout, giving a masterclass in popping the wall from an easy rhythm. Paul Van Den Bosch’s Hearton Du Bois Halleux had also displayed the incredible scope that landed him victory at Hickstead this summer.

    In the final heat both looked even more settled, clearing the famous red bricks without a tap to secure their joint victory.

    “I am delighted with him as it was his first one,” said William, who has partnered the Holsteiner since he was bought by Rushy Marsh Farms in Florida at the beginning of this year.

    “You can bring an extra horse for the puissance [when you are jumping the international classes] and we thought it would be a good experience for him to get in the ring in that atmosphere.

    “He felt like he really settled into it. He’s a horse who has been a really good addition to the team as you can do a speed class or a grand prix — and now we know a puissance as well — and it’s well within his capabilities.”

    In a year that has landed him firmly in the public consciousness, 21-year-old Michael praised the incredible talents of his 12-year-old ride, who he said “does everything you ask and always wants to please you”.

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    “In the first round he was a little bit tense but after that he got better and better,” said the Olympia first-timer, who has travelled from his home in South Kildare for the Cayenne puissance and six-bar this week. “The last two rounds were actually the best two, he felt fantastic and like he jumped it easily.

    “Every time you get on him you know there is no jump too big and no course too difficult and I’d like to thank his owner for giving me the opportunity to ride him.”

    Equal fourth place went to Alfie Bradstock and Darragh Magner’s H D’Or, previous puissance victors at Horse of the Year Show, and Ireland’s Nano Healy with his own 12-year-old KMS Clinton. Both made the fourth round but tipped a brick over the 7ft (2m15) wall.

    Are you a fan of puissance competitions? Let us know your views by emailing hhletters@ti-media.com with your name and nearest town for the chance to be featured in the letters page a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine…

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