Success in Style: Puissance Night at The Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show

Ladies Day at the Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Show brought not only the glamour and style with the fabulously contested Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Best Dressed title, but an enviable schedule of international classes including the Kubota by Hughes Brothers CSI1* 1.35m, The Pony of the Year Show CSI-P 1.25m, before climaxing with the iconic red wall of the Puissance.

An early start in the International Arena posed lots of technical questions for the 64 starters in the Horseware Ireland CSI3* 1.40m. With every line on a related distance and tight for time, Team Z7’s Georgia Tame with Z7 Caretina remained the only clear in the first half of the opening round, until Ronnie Jones and Interstar B broke through with a clear one second behind the lead, opening the door for Antony Condon (IRL) and William Whitaker, just four clears in total. First in for the second round, Georgia set the standard and proved hard to beat, with the leading lady and her impressive mare aptly remaining triumphant on Ladies Day.

Georgia commenting on her success, “the course builder did a really good job; every line was on a distance but also the time was really tight so in the places where you did have time to move on you had to wait for the distance and think about the line. Z7 Caretina always try’s her best. During lockdown she had surgery to remove a 12 kg tumour from her ovaries, she had been successfully jumping with that, now it’s been removed she must feel a lot better, she’s flying.”

As always, the Pony of the Year Show CSI-1*1.30m in the Castle Arena was fiercely fought at the top. Tight turns in the air with quick and careful steps in one round against the clock produced seven clears. Going head-to-head were formidable riders Henry Squibb and Tabitha Kyle. Securing a hat trick in Friday’s 1.25m, Tabitha Kyle left no space at the top, dominating the leader board taking the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, leaving Henry determined to make a mark in today’s class. Last in and producing a seriously “in it to win it” confident round, Henry delivered on his plan and, by the smallest of margins, took the win.

Friendly rivals who regularly challenge each other to push a bit harder, it was Henry and Casino Royale who secured the win, followed by Tabitha Kyle and Gangnam Style in second, Tabitha’s second ride Atomic du Bary in third and fourth back to Henry Squibb and Kilcurry Dawn.

The penultimate class of the day, the Kubota by Hughes Bros CSI1* 1.35m in the International Arena, saw 41 riders compete from 7 nations. With only 2 double clears in the final round, Glain Watkins Jones riding Waldemar delivered an impressive round to take the lead. The combinations first International show, the worthy winner described the round “I went over the course so many times before I went in, we were able to make up the time with his big canter, travelling quickly across the middle of the arena. We’ve spent a lot of time recently training which has really paid off especially in the last 3 months, it’s really helped me to think forward.”

As the sun started to go down the iconic red wall went up. The CSI3* Puissance started with seven participants with a first round of 1.65m. The seven brave riders and their horses took the first round in their stride, with first timers Jack Whitaker’s Flinstering and Jay Halim’s Gentlemen Vd Reithandel having never even seen the wall before. Lifted by the applause of the crowd, all seven cleared the first round in style. With more red bricks added, the second round was measured at 1.85m and each combination sailed through to the third round.

Measuring at 2.0m, the changes in the line up began to happen. Jack Ryan bowed out gracefully with Kbs Major Player, while the crowd favourite Jay Halim and Halim’s Gentlemen Vd Reithandel and Jack Whitaker with Flinstering both nudged out a brick. Super brave William Whitaker riding Laura Renwick’s Puissance specialist Top Dollar VI ran out of steam on take-off bringing down the wall in dramatic style. With neither the horse or rider injured, the pair left the arena on foot to the sound of the appreciative crowd clapping and cheering. Round four and the wall shifted to an awesome 2m 8cm, leaving three experienced Hall of Fame Puissance riders Elliot Smith, winner at the Al Shira’aa Young Horse Championship in 2019, Derek Morton winner of the wall in 2020 at the Al Shira’aa Young Horse Championship and Guy Williams, a highly decorated Champion whose previous Puissance wins include Horse of the Year Show, Olympia and the Liverpool International Horse Show. All three combinations came down to the wall, following on from the triple bar, with confidence to clear the wall, taking them forward to the fifth and final round.

Now standing at a staggering 2m 16cm, the horse and riders made a final leap of faith as they once again approached the wall to the delight of the crowds. Demonstrating complete trust, bravery and scope, the 3 combinations cleared the iconic Puissance wall to the roar of the jubilant crowd. The three worthy winners returned for prize giving with a special tribute given to Guy Williams’ Mr Blue Sky UK, a prolific Puissance horse honoured for being quite simply the best of his generation, a Master of the Wall.

Looking ahead to the pinnacle of the show, Sunday’s Dodson & Horrell CSI3* Grand Prix, limited tickets are available to purchase to enjoy the action live. With leading riders Holly Smith, Angelie Vos Essen, Guy Williams and Laura Renwick but a few names included in the highly competitive line up, the class promises to be a serious showdown to victory, with all the riders hoping to gain the Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth Grand Prix 2021 title. Tickets retail at £15.00 for adults and £7.50 for children with free parking. Children under three can enter for free and well-behaved dogs are welcome too. Due to limited numbers, pre-booking is advised, however tickets will be available to purchase on Sunday only and will incur an additional £5 parking fee. For British Showjumping Members, a discounted rate of £10.00 is available on adult tickets (only applicable to pre-booked tickets).