Emma Slater reclaimed her Valero Masters grand prix title – won two years ago – with Mark Haines’ 11-year-old Art D Usance.
Peter Gillespie’s 13-fence track skilfully reduced the 21 starters to three for the jump-off, Emma setting off at a determined pace to set an unbeatable standard.
“I took him right bavk to the beginning with his flatwork this winter, now it’s paying off,” said Emma, who has found jumping bigger tracks at Lanaken earlier in the year has also helped with consistency.
Tim Page was ‘Mr Consistent’ with Duc D’Arsouilles over the three days and took second here with Sian Price in third on Adriarna.
Mark Edwards and Tinkers Tale were the fastest four for fourth and Adrian Whiteway took fifth with Anytime II.
Last-drawn Sammie Coffin galloped in to the top spot of the Capestone area trial with Willem De Lux and prevented last year’s winner Mark on Tinkers Tale from retaining his title.“I’d got nothing to lose so I went for it,” said Sammie, also crowned leading lady rider.
Course-designer Peter Gillespie had pitched the track perfectly to achieve five clears from 23 to go forward into the jump-off, judged under A9 rules in reverse order of merit – the fastest clear from round one going in the advantageous last draw.
In mid-draw, Mark took the lead it seemed he would retain his title, but he had to settle for second when Sammie stormed into the winner’s spot to win by one sec.
Tim claimed third on Justin Skinner’s Duc D’Arsouilles, Ben Bick took fourth with Zipiro and Paul Crago eased Dawn Cooley’s Valentino IX into fifth.
Keith Doyle on Harlequin Dunraven took sixth with the fastest four faults in round one and Paul Bevan claimed seventh with the impressive eight-year-old Deangelo, who just tapped the planks jumping in his first area trial.
Tim and Duc was winner of the first day’s Col. JHV Higgon memorial speed class and leading gent award.
The ground undulations and slopes dictated the places here, and only four clears were evident, and the final combination running downhill proved influential.
“He always wants to clear the jumps,” said Tim.
Andrew Davies was six sec behind on Vijlada MW to take second with Sarah Arkell in third aboard John Jones’ Fearless Vant Zorgvliet. Ben Bick brought Zipiro into fourth with Keith Doyle fifth on Harlequin Dunraven and Paul Crago in sixth aboard Another Time.
Tim was also in the frame in the final Speedi-Beet HOYS grade C, winning the six-horse decider on Derek Meeds’ Millbrook-sired Granby.
It was job done. The pair had finished fourth in the Norfolk qualifier and just missed out, and this class was the main aim for the 10-year-old gelding.
Sophie Heaven and Quite Like It took second in the fast, hard-fought jump-off, with Hannah Hughes filling the final qualifying spot on Tekila Sun Belin.
James Winter was only a fraction of a sec behind for fourth on Cosmos Boy with Emma Slater on Crack Van Overis Z in fifth and Sammie Coffin sixth on Simply Splendid.
Adrian Whiteway lifted the two places in the Nick Youngman Farrier accumulator with Joker. Carambow, a nine-year-old owned by Hazel Stowell, took the win with Cojack, another nine-year-old, was almost three sec in arrears for second.
Hannah Hughes and Eyecatcher took third with Sammie Coffin and area trial winner Willem De Lux fourth, Emma Slater in fifth on LLF Marbella and sixth going to Andrew Williams aboard Codar.
Stevie Jenkins topped an early 1.25m on Willem M, beating Andrew Davies on S Zermie 3 into second and Tim Page third on Elvera. Mark Edwards headed another 1.25m on Greenvale Cara with Adrian Whiteway second on Dusseldorf and Sian Edwards’ Troo Contest in third.
Keith Doyle took a B and C win on Elmo Brown, pushing Melanie Butcher on Flits into second and Sian on Troo Contest third.Hilary Hool outpaced all in the middle day’s 1.30m on Florandi to take the win with Andrew Davies on Elektrik in second and Andrew Williams riding Codar in third.
Alan Thomas posted a good win in the final day’s 1.30m aboard Grauffs Clear Round. Mark Edwards eased Montreaux Tale into second with Samantha John third on Its Business Class and Sammie Coffin in fourth with Simply Spelndid.
Rachel Davies headed day one’s 1.15m on Don’t Touch with Jake Harris on Picton Flamenco and Melanie Butcher on Leyla III in third. Melanie claimed day two’s 1.15m with Calcourt Quicksilva, beating Lizzel Winter into second on Just Malone E and Sian Edwards with Burello W in third.
Sara Arkell triumphed in the 1.20m with Cordillo Z with Andrew Davies in second on S Zermie 3 and Melanie and Leyla III third.
Photos © Jumping Around