Robert Whitaker landed the feature world ranking 1.45m grand prix in fine style at Keysoe International with star campaigner Catwalk IV.
It was no fluke. Course-designer Paul Connors’s subtly clever track reduced the 40 starters to 12 for an exciting, hotly-contended jump-off. And it seemed the spoils would go to Ireland as Trevor Breen set a blistering target with the big-jumping mare Bombay.
Nevertheless, cool-headed Robert and the experienced Catwalk negotiated the track easily, coming home with 0.62 seconds in hand.
"He’s been amazing for me through his career up to CSI5* Grands Prix, and he’s won a fortune. It took a while to get him to come right, and although he’s fourteen now, he’s really healthy. It sounds crazy, but the older he gets, the better he gets,” said Robert, on his Colman-sired gelding.
Joe Clayton gained two wins, taking the initial 1.40m and the concluding 1.35m two-phase.
Tight turns and economical lines earned Joe victory in the 1.40m with Luron S Z, a Lord Z 10-year-old he was offered the ride on by Geir Gulliksen in Spain at the beginning of the year.
“He’s naturally fast, I can turn him before he’s even landed, so I didn’t have to go too quick,” said Joe, who will now compete Luron in the winter circuit in America – “He’s just starting to hit form, the timing is perfect.”
Jane Heerbeck’s C Indoctro II 10-year-old Carolus K recorded Joe’s second win in the concluding 1.35m with almost two seconds in hand over Chloe Winchester on Belle Fleur.
In typically speedy style, Matt Sampson’s ultra-quick pace earned the top spot of the second day’s 1.35m with Renkum Centre Star.
Matt was offered the ride in August on the Renkum Off-Centre x Quick Star 11-year-old by previous rider Georgie Crumley so the horse could continue competing abroad, and Matt has already posted two 2* 1.40m wins in Oliva Nova, Spain.
“He wins a lot of speed classes and has done well in bigger classes, but you can drop him down and have fun, too,” said Matt, who has relocated to Sussex close to Hickstead from his original Sheffield base.
British-based Irishman Billy Twomey claimed day two’s 1.45m two-phase on his 5* speed specialist the Irish-bred 13-year-old stallion Ardcolum Duke.
“He was fast, careful and looking for the win and the course was decent – it wasn’t all about speed, there was still something to jump,” said Billy.
Adam Botham doubled up with two wins, claiming the 1.30m and 1.15m classes. He topped day one’s 1.30m with Leonne George’s Katinka.
“She’s tiny – 15hh – and I’ve only had her for a week, but she’ fantastic. There was a big five strides to the last – a long way for her – but she’s a real trier,” said Adam, who was offered the ride for a week when owner Leonne visited for a lesson.
“She won two classes straightaway and this makes it three. It was a last-minute decision to bring her here as my best horse is a little unwell at the moment, and now I’m hoping I can keep her!”
Flipper Nouvelle, a Flipper D’Elle seven-year-old bought from Tim Stockdale, registered Adam’s second win in the 1.15m.
“He’s fast, careful and just easy to ride – you just point him – and he loves winning,” said Adam.
Nici Wilson was another to score a victory double with her versatile mare Naomi 55 with 1.20m and 1.25m wins on days one and two.
“She’s a little speed machine, sometimes you have to go hard or go home,” said Nici, who has won the British Eventing Jumping and Style Finals three times with this Verdi x Heartbreaker 10-year-old bred in Britain by Charlotte Platt.
“She evented up to novice but didn’t really like it because she’s too careful. She hunts too and she’s so chilled at home, anyone can take her for a hack. At some point she’ll have a foal, but in the meantime I’m having fun with her.”
Chloe Winchester claimed an emotional win in the 1.25m with Lea Popely’s Little Luidam – the Luidam daughter previously competed with the late Ella Popely, who would have celebrated her 19th birthday this weekend.
Nicole Pavitt triumphed in the six-year-old with the Padinus x Landon gelding Gianni HC with a narrow 0.23 second advantage over Carron Nicol on Galerius.
“He’s my favourite, the easiest horse I’ve ever had on the yard and always wants to please – he takes everything in his stride and has the best brain,” said Nicole.
Locally-based Chloe Coward lifted the five-year-old final with her current Blue Chip discovery champion H Blokx (Der Senaat x Placido).
“He’s so careful, I know I can gallop him and he’ll get his legs out of the way, and he’s very clever, he’d do it on his own if he needed to, he doesn’t need me,” said Chloe.
Eventer Alice Dunsdon claimed the initial day’s 1.10m on Sambo III – at his first show since taking fourth at Blair Castle’s CCI3* in August – beating Polly Shaw’s Golden Grove AIT A into second. On day two, Polly went one better, taking a 1.15m victory on her nine-year-old mare.
Article Source: British Showjumping News
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