Nottinghamshire-based Twomey guided Diaghilev to an emphatic triumph in the show’s headline class, sponsored by Equestrian.com, landing a £15,000 winner’s purse. Twomey’s jump-off time of 34.86 seconds left his rivals trailing, with five-time British Olympian leading the chasing pack in second place on his Rio Olympics hopeful Ornellaia.
Whitaker clocked a time of 36.47 seconds, and it looked as though he might have done enough for victory, but Twomey had other ideas, as he triumphed by 1.6 seconds.
Sweden’s Peder Fredricson completed the podium places aboard H&M All In, with Robert Bevis (Courtney Z) taking fourth, Robert Smith (Bavi) fifth and Peter Charles (Stapleton Mist) sixth.
“I am really delighted,” Twomey said. “It’s an unbelievable show here, and I have got some happy owners and some happy children tonight. I had a bit of a funny first day. I think all the horses were a bit too fresh during Christmas, and then they improved from there on in. It came off for me today.
“The Horse of the Year Show was Diaghilev’s last big event, really, but he has slotted straight back in, which is great. He has a lot of power and scope.
“The organisers of this show deserve a serious amount of credit. The arena has been nearly full every day. To get a show kicked off in the first year and have big crowds is really impressive.”
And Twomey’s views were reflected by immediate figures for the show’s live streaming on the official website, which revealed 85,000 playbacks across three days, more than 500,000 minutes watched and over 500,000 people reached on social media platforms. Earlier in the day, Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano continued his hot streak of form by claiming a second Liverpool win.
Gaudiano and the 13-year-old Cocoshynsky bounced back from an elimination in Saturday’s four-star speed class to land the 1.45-metre against the clock competition, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds. And it followed a victory on New Year’s Day, with Gaudiano’s latest success coming after his World Cup qualifier triumph at London Olympia two weeks ago.
He set a scorching pace from an early draw, clocking 54.08 seconds, and no other combination came close, with runners-up William Funnell and Billy Angelo almost three seconds behind, while Fredricson was third aboard H&M Sibon and Twomey fourth on Ardcolum Duke.
The Allen sisters did it style, meanwhile as they starred in a thrilling Under-25 final. The class, sponsored by Gaskells Waste, went right down to the wire in a puslating jump-off as last-to-go Pippa Allen, riding Hope Springs, clipped two hundredths of a second off her sister Millie’s time to triumph.
Harry Charles, son of Great Britain star and London 2012 Olympics team gold medallist Peter Charles, was third on Peter’s Vivaldi Du Dom, with Kerry Brennan – 2014 British Under-23 champion at Olympia – finishing fourth aboard Wellington M.
“I was over the moon to jump clear in a ring like that, and then suddenly I was in the jump-off,” said Middlesbrough-based Pippa.
“You have to know what your horse is capable of, and luckily the course suited my horse because he has got such a big stride, and I think that is where I won it.”
Liverpool also unveiled its very own Angel of the North as 12-year-old Angel Tough, from Manchester, completed a memorable winning double by capturing the 1.20-metre amateur jump-off class, sponsored by Your Horse.
It was a display of remarkable maturity by the Urmston-based youngster, who guided nine-year-old mare Varuni Z – a horse owned by her grandfather – to victory.
Their jump-off time of 37.86 seconds was only seriously challenged by one combination – Tony Pearson and Arash – but they finished just two hundredths of a second behind to claim runners-up spot, while Chloe Breen, wife of Irish international showjumping star Shane Breen, took third.
Sunday’s opening competition – a 1.30-metre amateur class, sponsored by Land Rover Experience Peckforton Castle – went to Ireland’s Kristen Farr, riding R Candy, while British rider Chloe Aston landed the knockout class, sponsored by Artorius Wealth.
The format entails two riders racing against each other in head-to-head battles, and the semi-finals boiled down to clashes between Renwick and Constant van Pauesschen, before Aston took on Nicole Pavitt.
And the final showdown produced a thrilling race between Aston and rising Belgian star Van Paesschen, with Aston coming out on top aboard Amigo.
For more information on the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show go to www.liverpoolhorseshow.com