In an exciting display of horsepower, Nick Skelton powered over the seven-foot Boeing wall to win the $25,000 Puissance on Unique.The class was the highlight event on Friday of Washington International Horse Show. Skelton was the only one to go clear in the fifth and final round when the wall was raised to seven feet tall (2.13m). Two Americans also made it to the final round, but Andrew Kocher on Donnatello and Todd Minikus on Sweetheart were tied for second place.
Skelton is a veteran rider of six Olympic Games, and doesn't recall the number of times he has competed in a puissance class, but the important ones stood out in his memory. "I jumped 7’8” in London in 1978 over poles," he remembered. "I broke the high jump record there and I still hold that with Lastic, but I was young and brave then."Now, he is a bit more conservative in his jumping. "I don’t like the Puissance at my age," the 54-year-old rider said with a smile. "You don’t need to fall and you can fall in those classes."
Skelton has been competing Unique, 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro, for almost two years, taking over the ride from Laura Kraut. "Unique has never been in a puissance before. He won a class this morning, and then I jumped him again and he stopped at the wall in that class and then we won this, so it was good. He felt the best in the last round actually. I am actually surprised he took it on really. He’s testing me every day, that one," he remarked. He continued, "He is a bit tricky. He tests you every day. You give an inch and he'll take a mile with you. You have to keep on top of him, but he is a good horse. He wins most classes." When asked about the smile on his face after he cleared the final round, he said, "I was shocked actually, I thought it was funny. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and it goes your way."
In addition to their Puissance victory tonight, Skelton and Unique won the $10,000 International Open Jumper 1.40m Faults Converted class that was held earlier in the day.
Beginning the evening session, seventeen year old Reed Kessler, rode Ligist to victory in tonight’s $31,000 International Open Jumper 1.50m class held just before the Puissance. Kessler and Ligist jumped clear and completed the course in 54.220 seconds. Kessler beat out Nick Dello Joio and Geledimar Z, owned by Wembley Farms Inc., who finished in 55.220 seconds. Third place went to Richie Moloney and Equinimity LLC’s Alsvid with their time of 55.420 seconds.
Kessler showed Ligist (a.k.a. Goose), an eleven-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding by Levantos II, in the junior jumpers at last year's WIHS. The pair moved up to competing at the international level this year and showed in Europe over the summer. "It has been a big step up," Kessler acknowledged. "We only got Goose as a junior jumper and that is what everyone thought he could do, but I always thought there was a little bit more in him. Every time we move him up he is great, so hopefully we will keep on moving up."
Source: © 2011 Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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