The Liverpool International Horse Show made headlines for all the wrong reasons this weekend after a fire in a car park close to the Echo Arena cancelled the event’s evening performance on Sunday night.
Many horses involved with the show were being stabled on the lower floor of the car park where the fire was on the upper floors.
All horses were safely evacuated from the car park and held in the main arena of the show.
Nina Barbour, the President of the Liverpool International Horse Show, said: "I would like to express my immense thanks and gratitude to the emergency services, the Echo Arena staff, riders, grooms and support staff, the general public and the City of Liverpool following Sunday night's events.
"The understanding of everybody who were preparing to celebrate New Years' Eve and were left in Liverpool with no transport was nothing short of remarkable, and the offers of help and support from people - they ran into the hundreds - for anyone who needed assistance will never be forgotten.
"My thoughts are also with those who have lost their vehicles and possessions as a result of the fire.
"All people and horses are safe and secure, and I thank spectators, riders and support teams for their understanding and co-operation during what was a difficult situation.
"We are not going to let go of what we achieved in the first five sessions of the show, and we will be back to do it again next December."
A showcase of future dressage stars
Prior to the fire, the show was proving to be one of the most memorable yet. On Friday night, Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin showcased two of their rising dressage stars in the Inter I freestyle to music class.
Hester and Hawtins Delicato took the top spot with a score of 80.43, while Dujardin and En Vogue took second with 78.68 and Sarah Higgins finished third with Waldessarini on 73.75.
Speaking after the class, Charlotte Dujardin said: "I was absolutely delighted with the performance. That was his first freestyle, and he has never been in an environment like that, ever.
“He was so wild when I got him - I've had him for five years - and he is looking so promising for next year to be a Grand Prix horse.
"I am very excited about 2018. I have got four up-and-coming Grand Prix horses that I am really excited about, and hopefully for the World Equestrian Games we can come back with some more medals."
Jumping success on Saturday
On the Saturday, Amanda Derbyshire secured British success by winning the 1.50m jump-off class, sponsored by Horseware Ireland.
Eleven combinations went through to the jump-off, and it was Amanda who triumphed on Luibanta BH in a time of 33.30 seconds.
Amanda said: "It is so special to to do this and win here. It is the first time I have jumped in England since I moved to America, and it was great that a lot of my family and friends came to watch.
"The horse has done everything and more that we could have hoped for. She has been my best horse this year. She did two indoor shows in October, and then had a bit of a rest before I came over here.
The Puissance on the Saturday night provided a thrilling finale to the day’s action, with three riders taking the top spot.
Chris Megahey on Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier, Holly Smith with Quality Old Joker and Louise Saywell on Dassler all cleared a fifth-round height of 7ft 2in.
Reflecting on her performance, Holly said: "Quality Old Joker is a great jumping horse in his own right. He was third in the Hickstead Derby this year.
"All my horses have gone really well this week, and I am delighted."
A weekend of two halves for rider Sanne Thijssen
Saturday wasn’t without tragedy – 11-year old Sara Galotiere, ridden by Sanne Thijssen from the Netherlands, had to be put down following an injury in the CSI4* class. The mare had an awkward jump and was unable to weight bear on her hind leg after the penultimate fence.
Sanne Thijssen then went onto compete on the Sunday in the CSI4* Speed Class riding Bacardi.
Sanne was in the lead after crossing the finish line in 50.91 seconds when the class was stopped due to the fire in the nearby car park.
As the fastest round at that stage in the competition and very near the end of the class, Sanne’s time was judged the winner with Irishman, Shane Breen taking second and William Funnell claiming third.