Nick Skelton and Unique Win $25,000 Puissance at Washington International Horse Show

October 29, 2011--In an exciting display of horsepower, Nick Skelton (GBR) powered over the seven-foot Boeing wall to win the $25,000 Puissance on Unique. The class was the highlight event on Friday of the 53rd Washington International Horse Show (WIHS).
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October 29, 2011--In an exciting display of horsepower, Nick Skelton (GBR) powered over the seven-foot Boeing wall to win the $25,000 Puissance on Unique. The class was the highlight event on Friday of the 53rd Washington International Horse Show (WIHS).

October 29, 2011--In an exciting display of horsepower, Nick Skelton (GBR) powered over the seven-foot Boeing wall to win the $25,000 Puissance on Unique, owned by Beverley Widdowson. The class was the highlight event on Friday of the 53rd Washington International Horse Show (WIHS).

The WIHS continues through Sunday, October 30. The highlight class of the week is the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix presented by Events DC, CSI 3*-W on Saturday, October 29. The course designer for the jumper classes this week is Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC.

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). Watch Nick Skelton and Unique's thrilling clear ride over the seven foot Boeing puissance wall.

As the only clear in the final round, Skelton was also awarded a $5,000 bonus from The Boeing Company. For his win, Skelton was presented with the Congressman's Challenge Trophy donated by the Late Honorable Rogers C.B. Morton and the Late Honorable F. Robert Watkins, of Pennsylvania as well as the Armed Forces Cup.

The other two to make it to the final round were Andrew Kocher (USA) on Elizabeth Allen's Donnatello and Todd Minikus (USA) on Sweetheart, owned by Windsor Show Stables. They tied for second place.

Scott Brash (GBR) and Stanley Brash's Intertoy Z knocked the blocks off the wall in the fourth round, when the wall was set at six feet, nine inches (2.05m) for fourth place, while Ljubov Kochetova (RUS) and Aslan retired after the second round with the wall at six feet (1.83m). Aaron Vale and Quito, owned by Walter Ulan, cleared the wall at five feet, six inches in the first round, but they had an unfortunate rail at the vertical in the original course for sixth 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." Skelton also cleared 7'5" over a puissance wall with Apollo at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in 1987.

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 said he chose to enter due to the small amount of entries in the class, but thought he would finish fifth or sixth. When he made it to the final round, he decided to go after the first two riders had faults. "I thought I had better go. It's good really because with not many people in it, it is a shame for the show organizers, so I wanted to go and put a good show on. It was a good crowd; there were a lot of people here tonight," he said.

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. The pair jumped last in the class of thirteen and went clear in 52.470 seconds for the win. Skelton was awarded The General Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by the late Arthur J. Morris.??

Mark Leone and Annie 66, owned by Ri-Arm Farm, finished in 55.900 for second place. Reed Kessler and Pacha de Nantuel finished in third with a time of 56.010 seconds.??

Skelton described his strategy going into the course, stating, "I was last to go, so I basically watched a few go and then I knew who was where and what I had to do. The advantage to going last is knowing exactly what you have to do during your round."

Beginning the evening session, Reed Kessler, of Armonk, NY, rode Ligist to victory in tonight?s $31,000 International Open Jumper 1.50m class held just before the Puissance. In a faults converted format, 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 is just seventeen years old and 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."

Speaking about her ride tonight, Kessler stated, "I haven't had the best week, but my horses have jumped great and I just really wanted to go out with a bang. I knew the course had been tough and there were not a whole lot of clears, but I knew Nick was pretty quick, so I just tried to make some good turns and he jumped super."

During the afternoon session, 18-year-old Christina Kelly of Nicholasville, KY, earned a victory in the $5,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class aboard Double H Farm's HH Narcos Du Marais. The pair jumped clear in 50.753 seconds to take home top honors. Sponsored by AAA Equestrian, LLC, the class awarded The Cover Story Perpetual Trophy donated by Rolling Acres Farm.??

Yesterday's High Jr/AO winners Megan Nusz and Banana D'Ive Z finished in second in 52.163 seconds. Third place went to last year?s class winners Tracey Weinberg and Larone with a time of 52.553 seconds.??

Kelly explained that she used today's class to make sure that HH Narcos Du Marais was jumping well for tomorrow. "I planned on going at a good pace, but I really wanted him to get a nice clear round before the classic," she stated. "My main concern was getting across the back bars because he's so careful. He's so fast on the ground and his foot speed is so fast. He's different than any other horse I have ridden."

This is Kelly's first time competing at the WIHS and she enjoyed the atmosphere. "It feels awesome to win here," she smiled. "I love that they do a prize giving for every class. It is usually just going and getting a ribbon at the in-gate, so it's cool to go in and have a presentation."

The jumper classes began earlier today with a $2,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class, sponsored by North Star. Samantha Schaefer, of Westminster, MD, earned victory aboard her own 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Sugar Ray with a clean round in 50.728 seconds. Lillie Keenan and Firework, owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, jumped clear in 53.227 seconds for the reserve position. Gabrielle Stern and Anjelica finished third in 53.471 seconds.??

Schaefer and Sugar Ray were presented The Eleanor White O'Leary Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.??

Schaefer has owned Sugar Ray since 2009 and explained that she first showed h im in the high juniors and small grand prix, but decided that he was best as a low horse. "I bought another horse to replace him because we knew that wasn't really where he belonged," she stated. "He is really amazing at this height. He's so fast and careful. As the other horse matured and was ready to do the height, (Sugar Ray) got to become the low horse; they switched roles."

"He is so much fun," Schaefer smiled. "He is one of my favorite horses that I have ever had; he's so special. I've never had a horse that wants to win so badly. He knows the game and he is so experienced."

The Washington International Horse Show continues tomorrow with the opening classes for the pony hunters, followed by the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The jumper phase for the WIHS Equitation Finals will close out the afternoon session. ??

The evening session begins at 7 p.m. with the WIHS Equitation Finals work-off with the top 10 riders, followed by a Caisson presentation, terrier races, Chester Weber driving exhibition, and the highlight class of the week, the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix presented by Washington Convention and Sports Authority, a World Cup qualifying event.

For full results, more information, or to watch a free live feed of the show, please visit www.wihs.org. ???

Final Results: $25,000 Puissance presented by The Boeing Company

1 16 UNIQUE Nick Skelton Beverley Widdowson 7 feet

2 80 DONNATELLO Andrew Kocher Elizabeth Allen 6 feet, 9 inches

2 91 SWEETHEART Todd Minikus Windsor Show Stables 6 feet, 9 inches

4 19 INTERTOY Z Scott Brash Stanley Brash 6 feet, 6 inches

5 39 ASLAN Ljubov Kochetova 6 feet

6 84 QUITO Aaron Vale Walter Ulan 5 feet, six inches

Final Results: $31,000 International Open Jumper 1.50m Faults Converted

1 58 REED KESSLER USA LIGIST: (0) 54.22
REED KESSLER

2 95 NICK DELLO JOIO USA GELEDIMAR Z: (0) 55.22
WEMBLEY FARMS INC

3 97 RICHIE MOLONEY IRL ALSVID: (0) 55.42
EQUINIMITY LLC

4 36 CHARLIE JAYNE USA CHILL R Z: (0) 58.06
PONY LANE FARM

5 48 LAURA KRAUT USA WOODSTOCK O: (0) 59.23
FREEDOM GROUP & JOAN KALMAN

6 15 EMILIE MARTINSEN DEN GUCCI: (4) 59.95
EMILIE MARTINSEN

7 65 SAER COULTER USA JULIA DES BRUMES: (4) 60.43
COPERNICUS STABLES

8 51 KATE LEVY USA VENT DU NORD: (4) 61.42
KATE LEVY LLC

Final Results: $10,000 Open Jumper 1.40m Faults Converted

1 16 NICK SKELTON GBR UNIQUE: (0) 52.47
ALCESTER

2 10 MARK LEONE USA ANNIE: (0) 55.90
RI ARM FARM

3 57 REED KESSLER USA PACHA DE NANTUEL: (4) 56.01
REED KESSLER

4 36 CHARLIE JAYNE USA CHILL R Z: (4) 58.69
PONY LANE FARM

5 65 SAER COULTER USA JULIA DES BRUMES: (4) 60.48
COPERNICUS STABLES

6 20 BRIANNE GOUTAL USA VOILETTE: (0) 64.22
CLOVERLEAF FARM

7 83 AARON VALE USA TIBOR: (12) 64.45
BONNIE SMITH

8 95 NICK DELLO JOIO GELEDIMAR Z: (12) 65.50
WEMBLEY FARMS INC.

Final Results: Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Speed class

1 554 SAMANTHA SCHAEFER SUGAR RAY: 0/50.728
SAMANTHA SCHAEFER

2 490 LILLIE KEENAN FIREWORK: 0/53.227
CHANSONETTE FARM LLC

3 441 GABRIELLE STERN ANJELICA: 0/53.471
GABRIELLE STERN

4 204 MICHAEL HUGHES RED HOT: 0/54.085
DRUMNACROSS FARM LTD

5 238 HARRISON SHURE COUNT ON ME 5: 0/54.788
HARRISON SHURE

6 414 MELISSA JACOBS PIA: 0/58.764
MELISSA JACOBS

7 721 KC VAN AAREM MASTERMIND: 4/52.927
KC VAN AAREM

8 440 GABRIELLE STERN LEVANTINO L: 4/54.672
GABRIELLE STERN

Final Results: High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Speed class

1 428 CHRISTINA KELLY HH NARCOS DU MARAIS: 0/50.753
DOUBLE H FARM

2 156 MEAGAN NUSZ BANANA D'IVE Z: 0/52.163
TNT EQUINE PARTNERS

3 726 TRACEY WEINBERG LARONE: 0/52.553
TRACEY WEINBERg & THE WEI

4 306 KATIE DINAN SANDRO: 0/54.066
GRANT ROAD PARTNERS LLC

5 237 SAMANTHA SENFT EARLY MORNING: 0/54.145
SUMMER SEAS STABLE

6 627 CHARLOTTE JACOBS PROMISED LAND: 0/54.950
CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR S

7 728 ERIN HAAS AS DI CINZANO: 0/55.631
NORTH FACE FARM

8 311 CHLOE REID TOULON : 0/57.468