A capacity 9,000 crowd found itself treated to one of the greatest Puissance classes in Horse of the Year Show history on a memorable night at Birmingham’s NEC Genting Arena. The sold-out audience in the Andrews Bowen International Arena were wrapped up in a thrilling contest that ultimately provided joint winners in Guy Williams and Alfie Bradstock. There was also a special performance by third-placed Joss Williams, who was competing in memory of teenage Welsh schoolboy Bradley John, who tragically died last month.
Both Guy and Alfie jumped 2.16 metres (7ft 1in) with Mr Blue Sky UK and H D’Or, respectively, as they completed five rounds of jumping over the iconic red wall. Joss bowed out at that height, but not before he was given a rapturous reception on a night that encapsulated everything great about the sport of showjumping.
“It was really nice,” Guy said. “My horse is a young horse who has never done a Puissance before. Alfie was really good, he has been going well and has got a really big jumper. You need two of you to go head to head in the arena and try to get the result; it’s great for the crowd, they were screaming and shouting and it’s great. This show is fantastic, I bring my children every year and they love it. It’s such a lovely event.”
Alfie also revelled in the atmosphere, and he added: “It is definitely the biggest crowd I have ever jumped in front of. The horse has got so much jump in him, I don’t think there is much he couldn’t clear. You could not have got a much bigger stage than that of the arena tonight, the audience were right there with me.”
Kimberly White finished fourth with Catapult, but there were heroic efforts throughout the initial 14-strong field as the height increased from 6ft 3in in round one to the final challenge of almost a foot bigger.