Matt Sampson has reflected on the “amazing” experience of Puissance glory at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show.
Yorkshireman Matt and Irish challenger Michael Pender shared the top prize after they both jumped 2.20 metres (7ft 3in) to clear the famous red wall in a class sponsored by Equitop GLME.
And for Matt, it was a remarkable result, given that he only knew about his ride – Top Dollar VI – barely 30 minutes before the start after its regular rider Laura Renwick rang and offered him the ride.
Eleven combinations began the class – it could run for a maximum of five rounds – but the final drama was enacted by Matt and Michael, with his 2018 Dublin Horse Show Puissance title winner Hearton du Bois Halleux.
And they both delivered the goods, sending a capacity crowd wild at the Echo Arena and bringing an end to day three of the show that no-one could have scripted.
“It was a bit different because I hadn’t jumped him before,” Matt said. “I didn’t really know him, so I just tried to ride forward and give him a little bit of room because he is such a big horse, and keep him confident.
“I knew about 30 minutes before the class about the ride. Laura rang me and asked me what I was doing, and I said ‘nothing’ and she said ‘do you want to ride the horse in the puissance?’ and that was that.
“If I don’t ride him again, it was great to end on a high. It was amazing. I had only ever done one puissance before at a show in Holland, so I don’t have a lot of experience in that type of class.
“But the horse jumped amazing and filled me with confidence.”
For Michael, his latest achievement continued an impressve run of success this year, and he said: “He was a little bit sticky in the first round, but he felt more comfortable with each round, and in the last round, it was the best round he put in. I was delighted with him.
“We were equal first in Dublin this year, and I feel like he is getting better and better every time. He has jumped 2.20 metres twice now.”