The 55th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued on Friday, October 25, and the $25,000 Open Jumper Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company, was the highlight class of the evening. Great Britain's Tim Gredley and Unex Competition Yard's Unex Valente, clearing the imposing wall in five rounds up to a height of 2.10m.
The class began with four fences to clear, including a vertical, oxer, and triple-bar leading up to the wall set at a starting height of 1.70m. McLain Ward and his brand new mount, Kroner Z, had an unfortunate stop at the triple-bar that immediately took them out of the running.
The four other competitors, including Aaron Vale (USA) and DaSilva Equine LLC's Smartie, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Walstib Stables LLC's Aragon Rouet, Charlie Jayne (USA) and Pony Lane Farm's Uraya, and Tim Gredley aboard Unex Valente all cleared the first round to advance.
Those four competitors also cleared the wall in round two at 1.80m and round three at 1.90m in height to continue to a fourth round. Darragh Kenny and Aragon Rouet knocked the blocks off the wall at 2.00m to conclude their evening, while the other three attempted another increase. In the fifth and final round, Vale and Jayne were not able to clear the obstacle, and that left Tim Gredley and Unex Valente to jump 2.10m to win top prize.
Gredley and Unex Valente have jumped in a few Puissance classes together and won them at the Alltech National Horse Show in 2012 and the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in 2013. Valente is an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Gentleman x Sit This One Out that Gredley has owned since the horse was four years old. They have a trusting partnership that helps with jumping the big wall.
"A lot depends on the horse," Gredley said after his win. "He gives you the confidence to ride it the right way. He just has brilliant technique for it. He is very good in the front and learning to be really good behind. He's very versatile, and I think in order to jump a very big wall they have to have a bit of quality and be very brave, as well."
Gredley and Valente have attempted the 2.38m record twice now and had the wall down both times. He made some changes today and will try for two in a row at the Alltech National Horse Show in Kentucky next week. "I changed a few things around today, including the bridle, and he felt like he was jumping really well behind today, so it would be nice to try it with this kind of arrangement," Gredley noted. "With this horse, it isn't me being arrogant, he just makes it easy. He loves it, and I trust the horse so much."
Talking strategy, Gredley explained, "To be honest, the first round is the most difficult. You want to get into a rhythm. Everyone has a different way of doing it. Some people like to wait and pull, I like to just keep coming at the wall and set him up a couple of strides out. The first round is always more worrying for me than any of the others. Once I feel that I have a rhythm on him and everything feels good, it is not a problem after that."
Final Results: $25,000 Open Jumper Puissance, Sponsored by The Boeing Company
1. UNEX VALENTE: 2002 KWPN gelding by Gentleman x Sit This One Out
TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 2.10m
2. URAYA: 2001 KWPN mare by Farmer x Zeno
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 2.00m
2T. SMARTIE: 2001 Anglo European gelding by Tornado x Ulan
AARON VALE (USA), DaSilva Equine, LLC: 2.00m
4. ARAGON ROUET: 2000 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Remondo
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Walstib Stables, LLC: 1.90m
5. KRONER Z: 2005 Zangersheide gelding by Kannan x Nabab de Reve
MCLAIN WARD (USA), McLain Ward: elim
Source: Press release from Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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