A catch ride, a teenager and one massive wall: Britain and Ireland share Liverpool puissance victory

Matt Sampson’s magnificent joint puissance win with star Irish teenager Michael Pender raised the roof at the finale to an action-packed day at Liverpool, which featured superheroes, a British one-two in the CSI4* speed class, plus the continuation of a cracking week for Polly Shaw in the amateur classes

Britain and Ireland shared the top honours in a gripping five-round puissance class on the third day of the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show (30 December).

Matt Sampson, 28, and catch ride Top Dollar VI shared the spoils with Irish teenager Michael Pender and Hearton Du Bois Halleux after both cleared 2.20m (7ft 2.6in) in the class, sponsored by Equitop GLME.

Top Dollar’s owner/rider Laura Renwick asked Matt if he would jump the horse less than an hour before the start of the class.

“Laura rang me about an hour before and asked me what I was doing, I said ‘nothing’ and she said ‘would you like to ride [Top Dollar] in the puissance?’,” said Matt, who also won the 2017 British Speed Derby on a catch ride.

“It was a bit different as I hadn’t jumped the horse before – I didn’t really know him, which was maybe wasn’t such a bad thing.

“I just tried to ride forward and give him a little bit of room as he is such a big horse and keep him confident.

“It was easier as time went on as I figured out how to ride him and trusted him a bit more.”

Matt hailed a cab as he went over the wall for a final time, before landing to huge cheers from the packed arena.

Michael, 19, finished second at Bolesworth and shared the puissance victory at Dublin earlier this year on the same horse.

Michael Pender riding Hearton Du Bois Halleux

The pair produced five magnificent jumps over the wall, despite needing the farrier between the final two rounds, to be crown joint winners tonight.

“The first round he was a little bit sticky, then from the second round he started to feel more confident,” said Michael.

“The last round was his best and it felt like he could even jump bigger, so I’m delighted.”

Ireland’s Shane Breen (Acorad 3), Nano Healy (KMS Clintland) and Michael Whyte (Amaretto) finished joint third after clearing 2.10m (6ft 11in), but knocking the final wall.

Need for speed

Young riders shone in the Hope Valley Saddlery CSI4* 1.45m speed class with two rising British stars filling the top spots.

Harry Charles and his own Doulita took the win, while 20-year-old Graham Babes and Boucheron claimed the runner-up spot. Both riders were on the gold medal-winning team at the 2018 European Championships for young riders this summer.

Turkey’s Derin Demirsoy and Dadjak Ter Puttenen were drawn first to go and led for most of the class, making the course look easy.

But confident and quick clears from both Harry and Graham pushed Derin down the leaderboard into third.

Harry, 19, finished third aboard Doulita in yesterday’s world ranking class and said the result was a confidence boost.

“She’s my horse — the only horse I’ve ever owned myself — so I’ve put a lot of work into her behind the scenes at home,” he explained, adding he bought her last year from Australia’s Rowan Willis.

“She felt really good and really confident, so I said I would let her have another go today — I let her off from the very start and she was even better again today.”

He added she is “not the easiest” and has found the hackamore/gag combination suits her.

“She has a very funny mouth, but the way I set her up I let her poke her nose and do her own thing — it suits her and she jumps fantastically,” he said.

“She’s naturally very quick, actually she is deceptively fast as she sometimes doesn’t look as quick as the other horses, but she has a very nice step on her and a big jump, I don’t think we have seen the best of her yet, which is exciting.”

Superheroes to the rescue…

Speed demons Harriet Nuttall and Sula von Bulow could not be caught in the Archco Developments mini major relay.

Sula, aged eight-and-a-half, and her pony Bellfield Benjamin took some breathtaking turns to jump clear. Harriet, dressed as Superwoman, and her 2016 Hickstead Speed Derby winner Silver Lift produced a speedy round to take them into the lead in a time of 48.87 seconds — even with a three-second penalty for demolishing a fence.

“He is the best pony in the world,” said Sula, adding the 17-year-old is partial to grapes as a treat.

“He can go from sleeping to galloping round in less than a second. I love him with my whole heart.”

Harriet, who won Saturday’s feature CSI4* class, was full of praise for her “mini”.

“That was so much fun, Sula is amazing,” she said.

“Those classes are great for the kids, great for the crowd and we all try really hard — we don’t want to let these guys down as they are so competitive.”

In second were “Ironman” Paul Barker and Isabella Saunders-Cook in a time of 50.14 seconds, with “The Incredible Hulk” Emily Ward and Persia Calderbank close behind in third in 50.16 seconds.

Noora von Bulow, Lilly Aspell and a lightening-fast Eve McCoy were among the many other exceptional rounds in the talented class.

Full house

A top quality list of starters came forward for the Horseware Ireland 1.50m jump-off class, won by Luxembourg’s Charlotte Bettendorf on Hope Street.

Britain’s Holly Smith and the talented Claddagh Iroko produced two superb rounds, but were pipped to the win by 0.4 seconds. Ireland’s Billy Twomey completed the international podium in third with Chat Botte E.D.

Charlotte said the atmosphere was “amazing”.

“Today was a full house and you come into the ring and the crowd are all really into it, it is incredible,” she said.

“My mare is very sensitive, when I rode her this morning she could hear them opening Champagne bottles and was getting excited, but when I went into the ring she was focused on the fences.”

Charlotte, who won the CSI2* grand prix with the mare two weeks ago in Prague, added she is hoping for a “bit of luck” for tomorrow’s grand prix.

“I haven’t had her very long, she came over from the States and I’ve been riding her for two-and-a-half months — she gets better and better.”

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Second win for Shaw

Polly Shaw won her second class of the week with a victory in the Gatehouse amateur speed class on Golden Grove Alt A.

Polly, who won a two-phase yesterday, took top honours in this class in 2017 on the same horse.

Liverpool-based Joanne Mcglory won today’s other amateur class, riding borrowed horse Triomphe Kervec.

For more from Liverpool International, don’t miss the 10 January issue of Horse & Hound

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