Holly Smith, Louise Saywell and Chris Megahey went the full five rounds in the Equitop Myoplast Puissance at the Liverpool International Horse Show on Saturday night (30 December) to share first place when Quality Old Joker, Dassler and Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier all left the 2.2m (7’3”) wall intact.
Seven combinations jumped initial clears in the competition in front of a delighted crowd.
Ireland’s Thomas O’Brien went out in the second round when Dakarla slid a brick from the wall. The field was reduced further in the third round when French rider Daniel Delsart’s ride Lord Quidam refused the wall.
The remaining five combinations took on the 7’ wall in the fourth round where Shane Breen’s chances ended when Cycloon W nudged a couple of bricks past the point of no return.
This left four top-class combinations that seemed to improve with every effort and thrive on the electric atmosphere to contest the fifth and final round.
Holly Smith’s Quality Old Joker had produced text book clears after smooth approaches to the wall over the preceding four rounds and the Irish-bred nine-year-old was spot on again, Holly punching the air with delight after a smooth landing.
“He’s a big jumping horse in his own right and he seems to think puissance classes are quite cool.
“He gets a bit tail swishy when I try to take a steady approach, so the aim was to move on and set him up a couple of strides out,” said Holly.
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Louise Saywell looked to have a more difficult task with Billy Twomey’s Dassler, whose bouncy stride got stronger and faster as each round progressed.
“It’s a bit difficult to establish a rhythm with him as he doesn’t take hold of the bridle until the final approach and then it’s a case of trying to anchor him a couple of strides out,” said Louise.
Dassler again proved fairly feisty in the final round and he left a couple of bricks teetering on the brink, but they remained intact to share first place.
The 2016 winners and the most experienced puissance combination Chris Megahey and Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier continued to impress with every round and the Irish-bred chestnut gelding fairly towed his rider into the 7’2” wall.
“That’s the way he likes to go,” said Chris.
“Usually, it’s a left handed approach to the wall, but tonight it was on the right rein and it felt easier.
“When you turn that corner, he knows what’s coming and sets sail and it’s my job to find the right (take off) spot.”
It looked as though Ireland might have another rider to share the top podium place, but after never missing a beat over the previous four rounds, Anthony Condon’s ride Cavalier Rusticana said no to the wall when it reached 7’2”. Anthony immediately tipped his hat to settle for fourth place.
Full report from Liverpool International in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale 11 January