Saturday of Dublin Horse Show is puissance day. The familiar red brick wall has been on the grass opposite the show entrance up to this point where it is a traditional selfie spot. Now, though, it has been rebuilt in the main arena and all the arena party have new uniforms with Land Rover branding.
There are several other classes today though, and they will work around the wall.
The hunter classes at Dublin have set a precedent for others in the way they are judged. The top competitors from each of the classes judged in the outer rings are brought back into the main arena and judged by different judges from other hunter classes. They choose their four best and then ride any of the horses they haven’t previously ridden before judging their Champion and Reserve for that class. Mares, Four-Year-Olds, Lightweights, Middleweights and Heavyweights are all judged in this way before all the Champions and Reserves are brought back for the Supreme Championship. Again, these judges may not have ridden all the horses so they do so now and finally they all confer in order to decide their Supreme Champion.
This year the Supreme is ridden by a Brit and the Reserve has been sold to a Brit. Not unusual here.
The downside is that this process takes four hours but it is nice, for once, to be able to watch and enjoy from outside the ring.
There are two international classes today, the first of which is the Accumulator, which is won by Cian O’Connor, with Cameron Hanley in second. Swiss rider Edwin Smits is third.
The JLT Dublin Stakes is next and is a “traditional” jump off class to get the crowd involved. This time the spoils go to Denis Lynch who beat Steve Guerdat by 0.03s, with Kevin Staut in third place.
The next class is great fun. International riders are paired up with 12.2 pony riders, each completing a jumping course as fast as possible. It also came close to being Britain’s only victory of the show when Harriet Nuttall’s partner Alexandra Hourigan blazed round her course and gave them a seemingly unassailable combined score. It was not to be though as, in true show style, the last to go Mike Pender and Katie McEntee managed to shave a second and a half of their time.
After a parade of racehorse to riding horse champions and the previously crowned hunter champions we are ready for the wall. As usual there is a very different look to the starting line up for the puissance, which always attracts specialists who only enter this class. Britain’s chances included Holly Smith (Gillott) with multi-puissance winning Quality old Joker, and Louise Saywell who was riding Billy Twomey’s Dassler. Holly made it through to the third round before an unlucky brick ended her competition but Louise made it to the penultimate round and with it a share of fourth place.
Puissance competitions are usually limited to five rounds and that meant that two combinations would share the prize this year: Chris Megahey with Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier and Daniel Coyle with Cavalier Rusticana. Daniel had never ridden the horse competitively before!
The final class of the day is the Amateur Championship and has to take place under floodlights as a result of the puissance overrunning. I should consider myself lucky to have lights, though, as my colleague Steve Dawe was forced to use a flash for the presentations in Ring One, which took place well after 9pm!
There isn’t much enthusiasm for anything else this evening, and we have one day to go. Sleep.