CHRIS MEGAHEY HITS THE HEIGHTS TO WIN NEW YEAR’S EVE PUISSANCE AT EQUESTRIAN.COM LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW
Saturday 31 December 2016
Northern Irishman Chris Megahey made a giant leap into 2017 when he soared to victory in a thrilling puissance at the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show.
The class, sponsored by Equitop Myoplast, was billed as the New Year's Eve highlight at Liverpool's Echo Arena, and it did not disappoint as 18-year-old Chris claimed victory from one of his fiercest puissance rivals Peter Smyth.
Chris and Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier cleared the famous red wall at 2.10 metres (6ft 11in), and celebrated in style as a bumper crowd revelled in his brilliant performance.
"I am really happy," he said. "He is not a normal horse, he is very special.
"We've had him since he was an eight-year-old, and we have never quite found what to do with him. He evented for a while, and then I jumped him for a while, and we sort of fell into puissance. And I have to say, ever since we started, he has been a real star.
"I love the puissance. You get a little bit nervous with him, because you don't know what he can do, but as long as you get him to the right spot, he will always try his best.
"The puissance is a competition that the crowd love, and the atmosphere in there was brilliant."
Irish star Billy Twomey, meanwhile, wasted little time returning to winning ways as he shone on day one at the Echo Arena. Billy, last year's Liverpool Grand Prix champion, took Saturday's four-star jump-off class, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, after a brilliant display on the stallion Ardcolum Duke.
Their time of 30.64 seconds eclipsed the effort of Italy's Emanuele Guadiano, who was first to go in a 12-horse jump off and set a testing challenge, but one of Ireland's top riders prevailed to land the £7,000 top prize, with another Irishman - Shane Breen - third, while Britain's Laura Renwick took fourth place on her 42nd birthday.
"I am delighted with the win," Billy said. "The horse jumped amazingly in what was a really fast class.
"This show holds very fond memories for me, and it is nice to get off to a winning start.
"He is an amazing horse, very consistent wherever he competes. I really chanced it at the last fence, and he jumped it well. Credit to him, as much as anything.
"He is really fast, naturally, and he always tries to stay careful. I really chanced my arm to the last fence, and he really looked after me."
Louise Saywell gave the strong British challenge a flying start to the show as the Nottinghamshire-based rider's performance continued a recent run of success she has enjoyed with the James Hughes-owned Peiter VI.
They starred at Birmingham's Horse of the Year Show three months ago, and Liverpool's Echo Arena witnessed another superb round as they dominated the opening international class - a two-phase competition sponsored by Wilcox@ Edgemere and Cooke Horseboxes.
Ireland's Dermott Lennon, drawn first to go, set a scorching pace on Fleur IV, clocking a time of 30.15 seconds, and it looked as though it might be enough for victory, but Great Britain Nations Cup rider Louise had other ideas as they romped home in 27.54 seconds, with Belgium's Constant van Paesschen taking third aboard Isidoor Van De Helle.
"It is a fantastic start to the show for me," Louise said. "We had a bit of a scary moment at the first fence - he was busy looking at the big screen - but then he was away. He is naturally quick, and all the turns came off today. He seems to deliver at every show, and in different types of classes, which is fantastic."
Germany's Felix Hassmann held his nerve to take Saturday night's feature class, but it was a close-run thing as he finished just six hundredths of a second ahead of Chloe Aston and Janika Sprunger, who were equal second.
Felix, riding Cayenne Wz, posted a time of 63.90 seconds, which was bettered by only one rider - Britain's Guy Williams - but he had to settle for seventh as a late pole down aboard Titus relegated him to seventh.
Chloe and Janika - riding Kolibri Classic and Aris Cms, respectively - finished on 63.99, with 61-year-old British Olympian John Whitaker taking fourth on his Rio ride Ornellaia, albeit more than two seconds adrift.
Charlie Atkinson produced a performance to savour as he enjoyed an "amazing" winning experience. The talented young rider, from Stockton-on-Tees, guided the impressive Bunbury Conquest to victory in the Liverpool International 128cms Championship, sponsored by Squibb Demolition.
The 10-year-old was in sparkling form, guiding his pony home in a jump-off time of 34.05 seconds, which was more than three seconds clear of the field. Claudia Moore and Peppino II Grande took second, while the podium places were completed by Henry Squibb and Pussy Cat Doll.
Business and accounting student Kerstin Deakin got her sums spot-on by delivering a superbly-timed jump off performance to take the Saturday morning opener Amateur A class, sponsored by Clipperman.
Newcastle-based Kerstin, who attends York University, guided 17-year-old mare Sunsolde to victory in the two-phase competition, posting a time of 38.09 seconds, which proved more than a second clear of runner-up Reece Oliver, riding Urlanmore Aldi, with Aimee Jones and Lilly 483 third.