Williams and Whitaker share puissance win

The Ripon Select Foods Puissance, the class everyone had been waiting to see at Horse of the Year Show, was finally here. Showcasing an impressive line-up of international riders, including last year’s joint winners, Alfie Bradstock and Guy Williams, as well as Geoff Billington and Robert Whitaker who have both won multiple Puissance classes in their careers.

The riders did not disappoint, performing some breath-taking rounds to entertain the packed-out 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.

The win was just out of reach for Simon Buckley and Nano Healy who had each shown great courage to make it through the earlier rounds.

It was all down to Guy Williams to see if he could match last year’s win. A wave of suspense spread around the Andrews Bowen International Arena as he approached the wall riding last year’s winning horse, Mr Blue Sky UK. With experience on his side, the fearless grey gelding took off stride-perfect to take a joint win alongside Robert Whitaker. An exciting end to a crowd favourite at Horse of the Year Show.

Guy Williams has won four out of the four Puissance classes with the striking Mr Blue Sky UK, who is owned by Caroline Phillips. He said:  “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. ”

Guy Williams and Robert Whitaker in action Photo: Julian Portch

Robert was delighted that Major Delacour, owned by Clare Whitaker and Elaine Wood, had won his first ever Puissance: “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.”

He added: “I’ will probably do the Puissance at Olympia and see if we can win there too.”

Ripon Select Foods are food ingredient manufacturers based in North Yorkshire. Headed up by Martin Wood, the Wood family have supported Horse of the Year Show for several years through their sponsorship of both the Supreme Horse of the Year and Children’s Riding Pony of the Year.

As a company, and a family, they are delighted to extend their sponsorship to cover the ever-popular Puissance class for the first time in 2019.

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