What better way to start New Year 2016 and the launch of the Olympic year – with a fabulous new 4* showjumping extravaganza – the inaugural equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show.
The curtains opened on this dazzling new event at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on New Year’s day, with an electrifying performance by the Bootleg Beatles which set the audience alight throughout the show. The professional and well managed production provided an even balance of equestrian sport and family entertainment.
Event organisers had been aware for some time of a gap in the market for an indoor show in the UK. For them it had to be located in the north west of England, to link in with their flag ship event Bolesworth International which takes place in Cheshire in June.
They wanted a city with a strong identity and for the populous to be enthusiastic in their support of the event. There was never any doubt in the organisers mind that it would be Liverpool.
Nina Barbour, the brainchild behind the show, commented “I watched the equestrian events in the heart of London at the 2012 Olympic Games and I wanted to bring that kind of world-class sport to the north west of England. Liverpool is world-famous for its sporting and entertainment heritage and we wanted to put the city on the map as a centre of excellence for showjumping”.
This initiative approach to the whole event which involved the realms of modern technology and production brought together a new era of equestrian entertainment.
Following three days of high adrenaline and action packed entertainment it fell to Ireland’s Billy Twomey to deliver a showjumping showcase on the final night to be crowned grand prix champion.
Nottinghamshire-based Twomey guided Diaghilev to an emphatic triumph in the show’s headline class, sponsored by Equestrian.com, landing a £15,000 winner’s purse.
Twomey’s jump-off time of 34.86 seconds left his rivals trailing, with five-time British Olympian leading the chasing pack in second place on his Rio Olympics hopeful Ornellaia.
Whitaker clocked a time of 36.47 seconds, and it looked as though he might have done enough for victory, but Twomey had other ideas, as he triumphed by 1.6 seconds.
Sweden’s Peder Fredricson completed the podium places aboard H&M All In, with Robert Bevis (Courtney Z) taking fourth, Robert Smith (Bavi) fifth and Peter Charles (Stapleton Mist) sixth.
“I am really delighted,” Twomey said. “It’s an unbelievable show here, and I have got some happy owners and some happy children tonight.
“The organisers of this show deserve a serious amount of credit. The arena has been nearly full every day. To get a show kicked off in the first year and have big crowds is really impressive.”
And Twomey’s views were reflected by immediate figures for the show’s live streaming on the official website, which revealed 85,000 playbacks across three days, more than 500,000 minutes watched and over 500,000 people reached on social media platforms.
Here are what some of the riders had to say about the equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show;
JOHN WHITAKER (Great Britain): “The facilities, the ring, everything at Liverpool is top-class. It is not easy to organise something like this, but it’s a great new addition to the calendar.”
WILLIAM FUNNELL (Great Britain): “You run out of superlatives for this show. We have tried to give entertainment, and you can see with the riders that we really enjoyed the show. The whole thing is just fantastic.”
PETER CHARLES (Great Britain): “You get treated beautifully, they look after the riders and the public have been fantastic. It is a truly great show. Full marks to Nina Barbour.”
EMANUELE GAUDIANO (Italy): “It is a super new show. It is the first show of the year, and it is an unbelievable event – one that will get bigger and bigger.”
CHLOE ASTON (Great Britain): “It is an unbelievable show. It is one of my favourite shows I have ever jumped at. The atmosphere is amazing, the arena is fantastic and the courses have been outstanding.”
PIERGIORGIO BUCCI (Italy): “I enjoyed the show so much. I must say congratulations to Nina Barbour and all the organisers. This is the first year at Liverpool, and they have done an amazing job. It is so impressive. It is a super arena, and you get a really good, warm feeling in there.”