Four riders shared the honours at 2.21m — a record height for the show — in the Hope Valley Saddlery Puissance at the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.
They included the joint Olympia winners — William Whitaker with RMF Charly and Mikey Pender with his Hickstead Derby hero Hearton Du Bois Halleux — and Guy Williams with his puissance specialist Mr Blue Sky UK, who took the Olympia puissance in 2018 and the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) class this year.
But they were joined by a new face, Harry Whall. The 28-year-old, competing in his first puissance competition with new ride Quality Old Joker, came close to tipping off on landing in the first round, but grew in confidence as the five rounds went on.
“That was the best buzz ever!” exclaimed the 28-year-old from Market Rasen. “It is a dream come true. I didn’t expect him to jump so high in the first round, but once I got on the right spot it was great.”
Harry bought 11-year-old Quality Old Joker, who won this class at Liverpool in 2017 and the puissance at Olympia in 2016 with former rider Holly Smith, a couple of months ago.
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Holly won last night’s big class, the Horseware Ireland-sponsored 1.50m competition, on former event horse Denver, owned by Ian Dowie. The 11-year-old competed up to CCI4* level with Emilie Chandler and Constance Copestake before turning to showjumping with Holly this summer.
Tabitha Kyle’s outstanding year continued with victories in both the Wicks Group 128cm championship and the P Gowans Civil Engineering 138cm final.
Check back on horseandhound.co.uk for more updates from the Liverpool International Horse Show plus report in the issue of Horse & Hound magazine dated 9 January.