It is always a crowd pleaser and this year’s Alltech Christmas Puissance at Olympia, London International Horse Show on Thursday (17 December) was no disappointment – going to the fifth and final round. The spoils were shared between young showjumper Jos Verlooy and Germany’s Hilmar Meyer, who both scaled a huge 2m15.
At just 20 years old, Belgian rider Jos was the youngest of the field and was aboard a very willing partner, the nine-year-old chestnut gelding Sunshine – the son of Diamant de Semilly was purchased for Scott Brash.
Jos adopted an unusual technique of trotting in the corner before the wall. “I tried to keep him as quiet as possible,” he said. “I didn’t really want to go any higher with him today as he is in the World Cup qualifier on Sunday. The atmosphere in there was unbelievable, and he was very nice to ride.”
The €10,000 prize pot was divided between the two riders after they were the only two to clear the brick wall – one of the highest to be seen at Olympia.
Hilmar was making his first appearance at Olympia as a rider and made the trip over from Germany especially to ride his horse Continuo in the puissance.
“I came over many years ago as a groom and have watched it on the TV since, now I have a horse good enough to ride here,” said Hilmar. “I found the horse by luck. A friend of mine saw him and said to me I must have him – he’s also been jumping well in six bar classes,” he added of the 13-year-old gelding by Contendro.
A total of 11 riders kicked off proceedings in Thursday’s highlight class. Laura Renwick (Roller Coaster) and Guy Williams (Depardieu van T Kiezelhof) flew the flag for the Brits. Guy reached the second round before displacing a brick, while Laura went one round further to the third – producing a perfect take off but the gelding just didn’t get high enough.
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This year’s victorious Hickstead Derby combination, Trevor Breen and Loughnatousa WB made it to the fourth round before crashing out of the competition – the gelding looked particularly spritely for his 16 years.
Young showjumper Victoria Gulliksen, daughter of top Norwegian rider Guir, was back for another stab at a puissance following her joint triumph at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in October partnering Grand Balou.
The 23-year-old looked strong throughout before tapping a brick in the fourth round – taking her out of the competition.
The Norway rider shared the spoils at HOYS with Belgian rider Karel Cox. She took a dramatic tumble after the finish line when the gelding jumped left, knocking her forward. Although the 12-year-old doesn’t look to be the easiest ride, there was no such drama tonight.