Billy Twomey retains his Grand Prix crown in Liverpool

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Ireland’s Billy Twomey and Diaghilev won the Grand Prix for the second year in a row at the Liverpool International Horse Show.

Billy returned to the Echo Arena as the reigning Grand Prix champion, and a fast double clear saw them retain their crown.

A total of 10 horses made it through to the jump-off, with Britain’s William Whitaker (Utamaro D Ecaussines) posting a seemingly unbeatable time of 38.79sec.

However, a determined Twomey was able to produce some incredibly tight turns on the 14-year-old bay gelding Diaghilev to shave more than a second off Whitaker’s time, and claim the top prize of £17,500.

“My horse went really well over the two rounds,” said Billy. “He is really competitive, and when you are turning he is always looking to find the fence. He can be fast in the jump-offs, and luckily he was a bit quicker than the others today.”

William Whitaker eventually finished second, with Ireland’s Michael Duffy in third.

The three-day show at Liverpool’s Echo Arena was certainly a successful one for Cork’s Billy Twomey, who opening day’s four-star jump-off class, sponsored by Horseware Ireland, with Ardcolum Duke

Another rider to enjoy multiple successes in Liverpool was Germany’s Felix Hassmann, who won three ranking classes.

“It has been an unbelievable show for me, absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I have never won three ranking classes at one show before.”

Northern Irish teenager Christopher Megahey headed an Irish one-two-three in the Liverpool international Puissance.

It was the second Puissance win for Megahey in the space of three weeks, following his victory at Olympia just before Christmas.

At Olympia Chris shared the top prize with Britain’s Holly Smith, but this time Chris was the sole winner while Holly had to settle for joint third place with David Simpson. Ireland’s Peter Smyth took the runner-up spot.

Megahey and the former event horse Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier were the only combination to clear the big red wall at 7ft (2m12).

“He is not a normal horse, he is very special,” said Chris. “We’ve had him since he was an eight-year-old, and we have never quite found what to do with him. He evented for a while, and then I jumped him for a while, and we sort of fell into Puissance and I have to say, ever since we started, he has been a real star.”

Other notable wins included Michael Whitaker’s victory in the 1.50m jump-off class, while Luli Loveridge teamed up with Guy Williams to take the mini major class.

Horse & Country were the sponsors of the Extreme Driving Challenge at the show.

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