It’s not been a bad first visit to the NEC for Commandant Geoff Curran, who cleared 2m19cm on Bishops Quarter to win the Ripon Select Foods HOYS puissance.
In a thriller of a Saturday night performance, and the first time since Padraig Judge and Citi Business’s win in 2017 that the HOYS puissance has not been split, former top eventer Geoff and the 15-year-old Irish-bred gelding were the only combination to clear the red wall in the fifth and final round.
“The crowd was absolutely amazing, the atmosphere in there was brilliant,” Geoff said. “I’ve never been to the show before and I’m delighted to be here. And to win is even more special.”
Geoff and the big chestnut, owned by the Minister for Defence and Gerard Murphy, gave the smoothest performance in the competition; Bishops Quarter cantering calmly to the wall on every attempt and popping it as if it could have been a foot higher.
But Geoff said he was working hard to keep the horse focused in front of the capacity crowd in the NEC.
“He finds jumping big very easy,” he said. “The first few rounds are about getting him as relaxed as possible, and he normally gets better as the wall gets bigger, as it backs him off a bit.
“He’s very brave, talented, scopey and honest – he will never say no, never – and he possibly could be a grand prix horse but it’s very difficult to keep him focused, and difficult to ride when there are technicalities.”
Geoff, who represented Ireland at the Beijing Olympics, the 2006 and 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2011 European Championships in eventing, campaigned Bishops Quarter up to three-star (now four-star) level but changed disciplines as it was hard to produce a good dressage test. But his jumping ability was never in doubt.
Geoff may also take him to contest the puissance at the London International Horse Show in December.
“That may be the plan now!” he said. “He’s been very relaxed since he got here, and he did a 1.35m at home last week and was very good there so I might have had a few bob on myself!”
Second place went to Mark Edwards and Montreuxs Tale, the only other combination to contest the final round, and Guy Williams on Mr Blue Sky UK and William Whitaker on Flamboyant III shared third.
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