Guy Williams and Robert Whitaker share the win in the HOYS 2019 Showjumping Puissance
A packed crowd were in attendance on Saturday night at the Horse of The Year Show 2019, eagerly anticipating the class everyone was waiting to see, the Showjumping Puissance in the Andrews Bowen International Arena. With an impressive line-up of international riders, including last year’s joint winners, Alfie Bradstock and Guy Williams, plus Geoff Billington and Robert Whitaker there were some breath-taking rounds to entertain the crowd on Saturday night at Horse of the Year Show. By round five, the 12 starters were whittled down to four to tackle the big red wall, set at an impressive height of 7ft2” (2.20m).
Robert Whitaker was up first riding Major Delacour who had never jumped a Puissance wall before tonight’s class. The 11-year-old chestnut gelding brushed off the pressure clearing the wall in remarkable style. Simon Buckley and Nano Healy who had each shown great courage to make it through the earlier rounds were both knocked out at this height. A wave of suspense gripped the crowd when Guy Williams came in next, hoping to match his last year’s win on Mr Blue Sky UK, owned by Caroliine Phillips. With the benefit of experience, having won 4 Puissance classes before, the fearless grey gelding took off stride-perfect to take a joint win alongside Robert Whitaker and Major Delacour.
As always, the Puissance big wall provided an exciting end to the 2019 Horse of the Year Show.
Guy Williams commented afterwards: “He’s a really good horse and he just takes you to the fence. It’s almost like the bigger it gets, the better he jumps. He hasn’t done a Puissance since Olympia last year, it’s not something you want to do too often. In a Puissance it is really tempting to attack the fence early on, but I try and hold them until the last round. It’s a fun class to ride in and the audience really enjoy it which makes you want to win. My kids beg me to do this class every year, they just love it. I used to come and watch at HOYS with my mum and dad so it’s great to now be here with my children.”
Robert Whitaker was also delighted that Major Delacour, owned by Clare Whitaker and Elaine Wood, had won his first ever Puissance. He said: “I just knew he’d be a good Puissance horse. I’ve been riding him now for about a year and he is a very brave jumper. I couldn’t have asked any more of him tonight, he felt better and better each round, I even think he could have kept going. There’s always a good crowd here on a Saturday night and it’s a good one for them to get behind. I’ll probably do the Puissance at Olympia and see if we can win there too.”
The HOYS Puissance was sponsored by Ripon Select Foods, a food ingredient manufacturer based in North Yorkshire. Owned by the Woods family, they have sponsored classes at the Horse of the Year Show for several years, including the Supreme Horse of the Year and Children’s Riding Pony of the Year and now the ever-popular Puissance class for the first time in 2019.