Shane Breen continued Ireland’s unbeaten run in the Liverpool grand prix, while it was victory for the States in a fierce knock-out class and 128cm Dublin speed sensations add a Liverpool win to their tally

Ireland retained its unbeaten grand prix crown in a top-class jump-off on New Year’s Eve at the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.

Shane Breen and Golden Hawk, winners at Olympia last week, jumped two spotless rounds to take top honours in the 1.60m class.

Seven clears and the fastest four-falter Billy Twomey —winner of the previous two runnings of Liverpool grand prix Billy Twomey — came forward to the jump-off from a start list of 30.

Harriet Nuttall and Galway Bay Jed set the standard, with a double clear in a time of 40.52. William Funnell and the eight-year-old Billy Diamo were next into the arena, producing a masterful clear in a slower time of 42.58.

Shane and the 13-year-old stallion wasted no time, with a beautifully balanced jump-off to win by 1.66 seconds, dropping Harriet and William into second and third respectively.

“I’m absolutely over the moon, Golden Hawk has been really good this year, at Olympia last week he won a big class then I’ve lightly campaigned him this week and kept him for tonight,” said Shane.

“It was a big, technical course — Alan Wade is a world-class designer he built the World Equestrian Games courses in Tryon, the footing was perfect from Charles Britton and it was a joy to ride out there in front of a very appreciative audience like that.

“I’m delighted for the whole team as Golden Hawk has been second many times in grands prix and it’s nice to get his name on a major one now.”

Ding, ding… round one

A fierce knock-out class got the New Year’s Eve party started, with the leading riders going head-to-head over a 1.25m track.

US showjumper Andrew Kocher and Britain’s Paul Baker went head-to-head in the final.

Bold turns and fast lines made the audience gasp, but it was the States that came out on top as Andrew landed over the final fence fractions of a second ahead of Paul.

“It was a really fun class, they have a lot of fun classes here at Liverpool, so I’ve had a really great time,” said Andrew.

“It is a really good show, I’ve loved it — I came last year and I loved it then too. Look at the crowds they get here every night, they are really into it.”

Polly Shaw, who has had a fantastic show in the amateur classes, with two wins and a second, was one of the stand-out performances. She knocked-out top pro Sameh El Dahan in the first round, before she was bumped off by Hickstead Speed Derby champions Harriet Nuttall and Silver Lift.

Pint-sized speed merchants

Speed sensations Seanan Reape and Mickeybo topped the 128m championship, sponsored by Pony of the Year Show.

The diminutive Irish pair made headlines earlier this year when their blistering winning round at Dublin went viral.

They whizzed around Liverpool’s jump-off course to finish in 26.20 seconds, almost a second ahead of second-placed Sophie Wicks and Camizon. Fergal Holohan and Camizion were close behind in third.

Britain’s Tabitha Kyle enjoyed a successful morning — after finishing fifth in the 128cm class with Coreys Princess, she took first and fifth in the Powder Systems 138cm championship.

Tabitha and Lissduff Royal produced a speedy double-clear to win, with her other ride, Playboy Van De Zoetewi, picking up four faults in the jump-off to finish in fifth place.

Ava Vernon and new ride Here I’m B stopped the clock 0.14 seconds ahead of Madison McCrory and Wynton D to win the Easibed CSIAm-B grand prix.

The six-year-old, produced by Holly Smith, has been with Ava since October and this was their third show together.

Eve Stayeley won the Irish Horse Gateway CSIAm-A grand prix with Shadow IV. In second was Jade Meekings, riding Pauls Lass, with Liverpool organiser Nina Barbour third on Douglas Delight.