The Gladiators were on the march at Bolesworth Castle on Saturday night – but it was contender Jemma Coburn who stopped them in their tracks.
The cult ITV series decamped to the Cheshire countryside for one night only in was their first-ever live outdoor performance.
And the IFX Bolesworth Gladiators Knockout certainly packed a punch as legendary referee John Anderson’s battle-cry “Gladiator ready? Contender ready?” pierced the evening sky in front of a bumper crowd assembled around Bolesworth’s International Arena.
The competition saw teams of showjumpers and contenders take on Gladiators like Ace, Doom, Amazon and Enigma across three Gladiators games – Dual, Zorb and The Eliminator – and it was Wirral-based Jemma who came out on top for Team Redrow alongside showjumper Jay Halim.
The contenders also included BBC Breakfast sports presenter Mike Bushell and dressage rider Nicolle Begovic, wife of Stoke City and Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, and the audience revelled in what was another memorable Bolesworth occasion.
John Anderson said: “I really enjoyed it. It was great fun, and a fantastic experience in terms of the arena. It was just magic.
“The audience was very appreciative, making a lot of noise, although probably not as much noise as I was making!
“That was our first-ever live outdoor effort, and certainly the first time with horses, so that was a new experience altogether. I thought it went very well.”
Jemma, a showjumper who competes at international level, won a competition on Facebook to fill a role of Gladiator contender, and she added: “I had been on the treadmill in preparation for tonight, but I ride a lot as well.
“The crowd was amazing, absolutely fantastic, and I had the best partner ever in Jay.”
Jay, though, readily deflected any praise, stating: “It was a really good, fun competition. Jemma and I know each other really well, and it was thanks to Jemma’s efforts that we won.”
And one of the Gladiators team, Enigma, said: “That was brilliant tonight, and so good to get back into the arena. It was a really lovely atmosphere out there.”