James Whitaker is the top man in Scotland


James Whitaker dominated the concluding grand prix on the final day at Morris Equestrian Centre’s development classic, winning on Mersley Chakotay and taking third with Glenavadra Brilliant.

It was no mean feat. James faced stiffed opposition in the form of speedy riders Keith Shore, James Smith and Jonathan Dixon in the five-horse decider, yielded from 19 starters.

“The course was big and technical and everything came fast on short distances which didn’t particularly suit my big-striding horses, but they jumped well,” said James, who pocketed £1,500.

Victory was decided at the final line of oxer to the last vertical.

“I got a great shot to the oxer and flow down to the last to take out a stride, going done on five instead of six. Others tried it but hit the last,” said James, after winning by a commanding 2.49 sec on his Aintree grand prix winner Chakotay, a Mersley Mon Capatain/Centauer Z 13-year-old.

James took a similar route on Glenavadra Brilliant, the Irish-bred Brilliant Lad 14-year-old he took over from his brother William following his fabulous Hickstead Derby win.

But Keith Shore prevented a one-two, slipping Mystic Hurricane (Tornado/Magic Motion) into second.

Next on the agenda for James is a trip abroad to a show in Lanaken where he will meet up with his Belgian-based brother William.

Jonathan Dixon posted the fastest four – but was still 0.37 in arrears to James – to take fourth on Gantico with James Smith in fifth on Balibu. Aimee Bell picked up sixth on two time faults in round one with Cameron Poe.

A déjà-vu feeling? Repeating their results in Northcote Stud’s winter Masters 1.15m final just seven days earlier, Sophie Hillier and Alister Hippisley-Gatherum landed the two Royal International tickets in the SEIB winter novice.

Fifty-one initially contended, and with 25 clear, the onus was clearly on the clock for the final Hickstead qualifying passes of the season. But Sophie, who hitched a lift to Scotland with Dawn and Donny Janciauskas of Sport Horse Continental, from whom she bought the six-year-old Quality Times daughter Stoney Raikes Gindy, to win by two sec.

Alister claimed the second qualifying place on the Emilion six-year-old G-Star with Chirs Smith drawing the short straw and just missing out in third on Kingstar. James Smith was fourth on Formule 1 with Lynne Montgomerie’s Gold Fever VH in fifth and Donny Janciauskas sixth aboard Cool Quarz.

Jonathan Dixon topped the winter grade C on the Diamant de Semilly 10-year-old Zaligra H in a six-horse jump-off. Tom Whitaker and the consistent seven-year-old Irish mare Creevagh Tompico, a winner here earlier in the week, took second with Annabel Shields on Rubin VHS third. Declan Irvine picked up the final qualifying spot in fourth on Horatio van Ter Hulst with Lucinda Stewart fifth aboard Cancun II and sixth was awarded to Trevor Nicholson’s Drumconnick Verdi.

Kelly Connor-Baillie headed the Foxhunter on the 11-year-old Cleopatra XI with a 0.55 sec advantage in an 18-strong jump-off. Gillian Anderson took second aboard the seven-year-old JJ’s Prince Chaccomo and Alister Hippisley-Gatherum eased Hitarco Verso into third. Emma Crawford, in her first year of senior competition after a successful final pony year, took fourth on Ferragamo L and sixth aboard Frauke de Bonheur and Simon Buckley slipped Contessa M into fifth.

James Smith claimed the 1.20m with a quick, efficient round on the 12-year-old Van de Bay Girl (Black-Boy/Redford), the only pair to break the 30 sec barrier and take the win by more than three sec in the five-strong jump-off. James also netted third on Quiletto 14-year-old Ballyhane Etto, sandwiching Angel Tough into second on the Aldatus Z/Cavalier 14-year-old Corgary Atoz. Vicky Davidson took fourth on Celtic just ahead of fifth-placed Rachel Duff with Zonieke II.

Ashley Grant triumphed in the first class of the day, the newcomers, winning on the eight-year-old mare Badgerhill Euro by 0.59 sec. Michael Smith slotted the 11-year-old mare Thornwood Vision into second followed closely by Rachel Williamson in third on MC Diamond. Fionnulla Kerr took fourth on Gigolo X with Ailsa Black in fifth riding Zara Zing and Chris Smith took sixth on Lune VD Withhoeve.

Photos © Jumping Around

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