Cork show jumper Billy Twomey won the grand prix in stunning fashion at the inaugural Liverpool International Horse Show last night.
Riding the 12-year-old bay gelding Diaghilev, the Nottinghamshire-based rider was one of 10 to make the jump-off and had a big margin, 1.6 seconds, to spare over his nearest rival, British veteran John Whitaker on Ornellaia, with Sweden’s Peder Fredericson third aboard H&M All In.
Twomey had given indication of his threat with Diaghilev in Friday’s feature 1.50mtr jump-off class, posting the fastest time, but knocking the last fence to finish fourth behind third-placed Down rider Dermott Lennon and Fleur V.
Earlier, Twomey placed third in a speed class on Sue Davies’s 13-year-old grey gelding Tin Tin, following up yesterday with a fourth-place finish in a speed class on Ardcolum Duke.
Meanwhile, another Irish rider has fallen foul of officialdom, in this case Richard Howley, whose horse Clane K was disqualified from the entire Liverpool show after it was found to have left the event’s restricted area without permission.
It came after Yorkshire-based Sligo native Howley had been presented with first prize after he won the U25 two-phase contest on Saturday, but he only got the bad news yesterday.
Recently, world No. 6 Bertram Allen was disqualified after winning the grand prix at London’s Olympia when a speck of blood was found on the flank of Quiet Easy.
Howley told Horse & Hound he had only taken the horse for a short walk as she had been “a bit gassy”.
“I brought the horse up to the stable exit and the girl on the door didn’t check my pass and allowed us out. I was going to walk the horse in the warm-up, but the bowsers were in there watering and I didn’t want to spook the horse, so I walked about 20 metres down the road until they’d moved, and then went into the collecting ring.
“We walked three laps on each rein — the horse had its number and rugs and boots on — and then I put her away,” he said.
“If I’d known we weren’t allowed out, I’d never have gone. No way.”
Horsepower of the mechanical form featured again for an Irish show jumper at the event, when amateur rider Aisling Byrne won a Mini Cooper. In doing so, the Longford rider followed in the tyre tracks of Denis Lynch, who won a Land Rover Discovery in Belgium days earlier, while Bertram Allen claimed three cars in Sweden recently.
Byrne claimed the car as the leading amateur rider over two days at Liverpool, culminating when she produced the only double clear in Saturday’s amateur grand prix riding the Irish-bred 14-year-old mare Wellview Classic Dream.
In doing so, she denied compatriot Lucinda Roche, aboard the Cruising-sired WCE Falco, the fastest of the four-faulters in the four-horse jump-off.
“I have never jumped at a show as nice as this one, with the atmosphere. It is fantastic,” said Byrne. “The horse coped brilliantly, and it is certainly not every day you win a car. My horse is very honest and trusts me, and I knew that if I had to make some turns, I could do it with her. She is deceptively quick across the ground, and is very careful.”
Coincidentally, the competition was sponsored by Horse Sport Ireland’s online sales portal, Irish Horse Gateway.
For good measure, a second Irish amateur, Kristin Farr, won yesterday’s opening class on the mare Candy R.
A large Irish contingent at the show ensured a number of appearances on the podium.
Irish riders dominated Friday’s Puissance, with Peter Smyth to the fore. The Tyrone rider received a standing ovation when clearing 2m16 (7ft 1in) with Mary McCarthy’s Cavalier Rusticana, a horse that stands 18.1hh. He was going head-to-head with Shane Breen in the fifth-round, but the Tipperary rider dislodged a brick with Gotti van Paemel to finish as runner-up.
Waterford’s Anthony Condon (Hadine van’t Zorgvliet), Tipperary’s Denis Lynch (Garkus van het Indihof) and 17-year-old Christopher Megahey (Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier) shared third place.
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