Ireland’s Billy Twomey hit top form on the final night of the inaugural Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show to be crowned grand prix champion.
Nottinghamshire-based Twomey guided Diaghilev to an emphatic triumph in the Liverpool Horse Show’s headline class, 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 John Whitaker 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.
“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.”
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.
And it followed 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.
Meanwhile, the Allen sisters starred in a thrilling Under-25 final.The class went right down to the wire in a pulsating 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.
Millie looked to have done enough on Balou Star, clocking a time of 29.56 seconds, but 22-year-old Pippa had other ideas as she claimed a superb victory in high-class company.
“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.”