Ireland’s Billy Twomey claimed the TheraPlate UK Grand Prix on New Year’s Eve at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show for the third time in the five-year history of the show.
Having won Liverpool’s premier class in 2015 and 2016 aboard Diaghilev, the Irish rider rode Kim Barzilay’s Kimba Flamenco this time.
The pair jumped one of only five first-round clears over Alan Wade’s track, which featured tall, airy verticals and some tight striding.
Billy and the 10-year-old son of Je T’Aime Flamenco were fifth to go in the jump-off, which also included the three fastest four-faulters. Jack Whitaker preceded him on Elucar VE, posting an immaculate clear, but his time of 42.87 seconds looked beatable.
Billy and Kimba Flamenco touched the oxer that formed the first part of the double, but it stayed in the cups and they raced home in 40.93 seconds.
Holly Smith and her World Equestrian Games partner Heart’s Destiny were faster, in 39.61 seconds, but they weren’t so lucky with that oxer and it fell.
Italy’s Emanuele Camilli and Jakko had two down, and it was left to Guy Williams to beat Billy. He started at the gallop, but an incredibly tight turn on Cicero II to the red “postbox” vertical was too much and down it went, leaving Billy as the winner.
“He’s a horse who’s always with you and is very fast, so you can set off and give it a go,” said Billy. “I felt I put it up to the riders who were after me in the best way I could.”
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The British-based Irishman gave his grand prix winner an interesting tune-up mid show before going on to win the major
Kimba Flamenco, who has won at CSI5* level, including the Falsterbo grand prix in 2018, was produced by Emma-Jo Slater until he was seven, when Billy took on the ride.
“He’s a very easy horse to train, and is always super-careful,” said Billy, who has a strong team of horses to aim at selection for the Irish team for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Jack Whitaker, 18, finished second, while Holly Smith took third.
Look out for the Liverpool International Horse Show report in the issue of Horse & Hound magazine dated 9 January.