First-timer Joe Stockdale ties with puissance pro Guy Williams after epic duel at Royal Windsor *H&H Plus*

  • Find out what happened in the puissance at Royal Windsor today when a first-timer went head-to-head with one of the best puissance combinations on the circuit...

    Judging by the sizzling audience reaction to every round on Thursday night (1st July), the return of the Royal Windsor Horse Show puissance was gloriously welcome.

    It’s been 12 years since the big red wall was last built under the shadow of Windsor Castle and on a breathtakingly beautiful summer’s evening, two riders showed bravery, expert horsemanship and determination to clear 2.10m (just over 6ft 10inches) in the fifth and final round to share the spoils.

    It came down to a battle of the greys with the experienced duo of Guy Williams and his multi-puissance winner Mr Blue Sky UK going head-to-head with 21-year-old Joe Stockdale, who was jumping in his first puissance on a horse he’d never competed before, Florida VDL.

    Both had look perfectly poised through each of the preceding rounds as the wall rose higher and higher and the tension reached a crescendo for the fifth and final round where the wall stood at 2.10m. But despite facing such lofty dimensions, each combination put in copybook displays of puissance jumping to clear the final obstacle with apparent ease and take home a cheque for £2,500 each.

    “My heart is jumping out my chest,” said Joe’s mother Laura Stockdale before her son made his final approach. “I’ve trained him a bit at home for this, but just for Joe to get used to the horse more than anything.”

    The 11-year-old gelding Florida VDL is owned by the Bussey family and normally ridden by daughter India but Joe was taking the reins for the first time in a competitive environment – although you certainly wouldn’t have guessed it from their foot-perfect performances.

    The 12-year-old Mr Blue Sky UK, on the other hand, has taken many top spots in puissance classes over the years, including at Liverpool, at Horse of the Year Show, Olympia in 2018 and Rouen twice, although most recently has been ridden in showjumping classes by Guy’s 15-year-old daughter Maisy.

    Dropping out of contention with faults in round four to share third place honours were Robert Whitaker with Major Delacour and Shane Breen riding Can Ya Makan.

    Twelve years is a long time in the sport of showjumping and when the last Royal Windsor Horse Show puissance took place in 2009, it was a 20-year-old William Whitaker and Cyber Space who cleared 7ft to take top honours.

    Will the Royal Windsor Horse Show puissance return once again in 2022? We certainly hope so!

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