John Whitaker is best Brit in a tough grand prix in Paris

John Whitaker and Team Harmony’s For Pleasure/Calato 12-year-old Ornellaia were best-placed Brits in the concluding 1.60m Paris grand prix, four faults marring their otherwise perfect round over a tough course and preventing jump-off access.

It’s not often you see carnage in a top grand prix with 5* riders, but at Saut Hermes it was an exception. From 47 riders, one was eliminated and 13 retired – not a good spectator sport.

It seemed course-designer Frank Rothenberger had over-egged the pudding with a tight time and relentless committed distances on the 13-fence, 16-jumping effort track. Plenty of mistakes came towards the end from the combination to a penultimate line of oxer to vertical double followed by a big oxer and a final tight turn to the last upright.

A clear wasn’t found until 12th to go in the form of Irish sensation Bertram Allen and the British-bred Molly Malone (Kannan/Cavalier), and they were joined by Penelope Leprevost and last to go Edwina Tops-Alexander to make it three.

But the jump-off turned out well for the watching crowds. First off Bertram gave value for money with a thrillingly quick round and an exciting flyer to the last oxer, but Molly Malone just tapped out the penultimate vertical.

Penelope had the crowd cheering with a clear on the Vigo d’Arsouilles/For Pleasure stallion Vagabond de la Pomme, but her lead was short-lived. Last to go Edwina on California, a 10-year-old Libero H with plenty of blood, skipped round to reduce the time by the narrow margin of 0.08 sec to take the win.

Eleven finished on four faults with Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum in fourth on Chiara 22 and Christian Ahlmann fifth with Carabis Z and Britain’s John Whitaker, who was so unlucky to nudge out a pole on Ornellaia, took sixth.

Jessie Drea on Mullaghdrin Touch the Stars teamed up with Jack Whitaker and Valentin R to take third in the 10-strong under 25 pairs competition. Jack posted a double clear on the 15-year-old Heartbreaker stallion and Jess made just one mistake in the first round to finish on a total of four. But no-one presented a clean sheet, and less than a second separated the first three – Belgium (Nathan Budd/Balder van de Katelijnkouter and Emilie Conter/Espyrante) taking the win with Sweden (Alexandra Eriksson/Liss Ryal and Evelina Tovek/Quiara M) in second.

France’s Patrice Delaveau galloped away with victory in the 1.50m two-phase on Carinjo HDC, winning by 1.43 sec from Belgium’s Gudrin Patteet and Sea Coast Ferly. Clear in the first phase, Louise Saywell and Peiter dropped down the line after faulting in the second half to 19th.

Photo © Jumping Around