Italian rider Luca Moneta and his nine-year-old mare Quovo de Vains cleared 7ft 2in (2.18m) to win the Alltech Christmas Puissance at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, this week.
It was Moneta’s first puissance win, and he is currently Leading Rider of Show.
The competition went to five rounds with only Guy Williams, on Richi Rich lll, and Moneta on Quovo de Vains making it through to the final round.
Williams’s grey mare just brushed a brick with his knee, leaving Moneta to take the gamble. He admitted afterwards that he had been apprehensive, but was encouraged by the audience. “The crowd here are real horsemen; they make you feel as if they are riding with you,” he said.
“I’m really emotional. The mare wasn’t just jumping with her body, but with her heart. What made me really happy is that she led me to the fence. She really wanted to do it.”
The evergreen John Whitaker, 58, who has won this epic class more times than any other rider, was cheered to the rafters for finishing third on Zantos. Laura Renwick was fourth on the appropriately named Roller Coaster.
The Duchess of Cornwall, again enjoying her annual visit to Olympia, presented the prestigious Raymond Brooks-Ward trophy, which is given in memory of the late commentator and show director by his three sons, Simon, James and Nick, to the most promising young rider of the year.
This year’s recipient was showjumper Louise Saywell, 23, a member of the Lottery-funded World Class Development squad, who was a last-minute call-up to the British team at the FEI Nations Cup final in Barcelona in September.
Olympia first-timer Jur Vrieling from the Netherlands made the most of his horse VDL Babalu’s fast pace to win the Kingsland Christmas Stakes, a speed class.
“I’d not seen [eventual runner-up] Pius Schwizer’s round, but I did see Harrie Smolders go,” Vrieling said. “My horse is not as good as making tight turns as Harrie’s, so I made the most of jumping off his good gallop.”
Vrieling, a team silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games with VDL Bubalu, joked about how this city must be lucky for him.
“I hope I get to come back here again, particularly to this show,” he said. “When you arrive, everything looks beautiful. But when the crowd turns up it is something amazing. They stand right behind you and make you want to win.”
The afternoon jumping class, the Snowman Stakes, sponsored by Shelley Ashman International, was won by Sweden’s Peder Fredericson on H & M Siborn, who beat Luca Moneta on Connery by nearly two seconds.