Youth leads the way as James Whitaker lands the Wales and West area trial

Youth dominated the area trial at Wales and West, James Whitaker landing to the top spot in fine style with Mersley Chakotay.

Fifteen of the 28 jumped first round clears, although only 13 opted to contend the jump-off, with mid-drawn James easily taking out strides and cutting corners on the Mersley Mon Capatain/Centauer Z 13-year-old grey.

“The faster he goes, the better he is,” said James, who took the win by 0.42 sec.

Harry Charles, 17, rode into second and fourth with Valkiry De Zance and the promising Cieco. Dan Moseley was sandwiched in between for third on Escapado S and Oli Fletcher – contending his first area trial – put up a polished double clear on Hello Disckoboy DN for fifth. Phillip Miller and Unbelievable Lady returned the fastest four for sixth.

Mark Edwards saved the best until last, maxing on his final draw in the Connollys Red Mills newcomer second round to steal the class on the home-bred Montreuxs Tale.

A total of 27 from 111 entries produced initial clears over Raf Suarez’s 12-fence track with 12 reaching the final stages against the clock. But fences fell in the final round as riders bid for the two coveted HOYS tickets, and only two treble clears were realised, Mark winning with more than five sec in hand.

HOYS qualifiers have been the main aim for the Tinkers Tale seven-year-old Montreuxs Tale this year.

“He’s so big we’ve given him time but he’s finally grown into himself over the winter,” said Mark on the gelding by his top ride Tinkers Tale and out of his former young rider and area trial mare Montreux.

It wasn’t until the 10th draw a jump-off clear materialised, and it handed Jane Annett the second qualifying spot with the Irish-bred Hold Up, a(Diarado/Courage II six-year-old produced over the last two years from British novice.

Mark Turnbull’s effort to provide a quick clear failed at the penultimate vertical and a pole down dropped the nine-year-old Ashton Dakota (Lupicor H/Corofino I) into third. But the pair will get another crack at HOYS at the National Championships, Stoneleigh, August. Also qualifying for the newcomer masters at Stoneleigh is fourth-placed Lauren Edwards on the British-bred Kesara 22 and Mischa Pitt with Sag D Oil.

Photos © Jumping Around