Robert Smith set a sizzling standard in the 4* 1.50m on day two at Bolesworth International and looked to have seemingly cracked the nine-horse jump-off from the front on the scopey stallion Ilton. But the on-form Brit was pipped at the post by the USA’s Lauren Hough and had to settle for second place.
Course-designer Alan Wade’s 13-fence track caught out several on time faults – eight competitors not touching a pole but incurring pesky time faults to keep them out of the jump-of, with nine of 47 eventually accessing the second round. And Robert – who posted the first clear – was out to take a win on the scopey nine-year-old Dulf Van Den Bisschop stallion and powered through the finish to set the target.
It wasn’t until Lauren Hough’s final challenge on Ohlalathat Robert’s time was matched, but Lauren took risks as well as ultra-tight turns to sweep to victory by 2.15 sec.
“She is naturally quick across the ground and in the air and she performed great today – she has been my best horse for a few years now, I’m very lucky to have her,” said Lauren, who gives the 13-year-old Orlando mare a day off on Saturday to be fresh for Sunday’s grand prix.
Six double clears were provided with Yazmin Pinchen jumping Van De Vivaldi into third ahead of British-based Irishman Trevor Breen in fourth with Bombay. Last year’s grand prix winner The Netherlands’ Michael Hendrix took fifth on Baileys with Ireland’s Dermott Lennon sixth aboard Fleur IV and Jess Mendoza popped Toy Boy into seventh.
Jess took victory earlier in the day, guiding Wan Architect to the front in the 4* 1.35m speed, winning with more than two sec in hand.
Matt Sampson had set a fast and seemingly unbeatable standard on Belle Fleur, but Jess took smoother, tighter lines on the 14-year-old Wan Architect, and crossed the line with 2.07 sec to spare.
“My dad [Paul] told me Matt was crazy quick, but I kept to my plan, did the turns and it worked,” said Jess. “He [Wan Architect] is very quick and on form, he’s won two classes in the last two weeks, and I got a great inside turn to the double.”
Matt had to settle for second on Belle Fleur 38 (Berlin/Gran Corrado) with British-based Irishman Richard Howley in third on the eight-year-old Centauer Z daughter Cendara De Mies. Joe Whitaker slotted Diola into fourth with Keith Shore’s Coriander Van’t Vennehof in fifth, Emma Stoker aboard Townhead Ballulah sixth and Corinne Collins claimed seventh with Bugatti B in the 51-strong class.
Nicole Pavitt landed the 4* 1.45m two-phase with Old Lodge’s super-careful Cornet Obolensky daughter Areeb OL, the 11-year-old winning the 44-strong class by 0.86 sec with an ultra-tight, near impossible turn-back to a vertical two fences from home.
“I knew I could do that turn – not many could, but she is very flexible and agile,” said Nicole, who didn’t hit top gear with this mare she has ridden for five years. “I didn’t accelerate too much because Saturday and Sunday are ranking classes so I tried to leave a little bit in the tank.”
The USA’s Michael Hughes claimed second on Jackson VD Bisschop with Matt Sampson in third on Ebolensky and Robert Whitaker’s early effort aboard Brendon Stud’s Noble Warrior taking fourth. Louise Saywell posted a lovely, easy double clear on Eindhoven GH for sixth place.
Singing sensation Matt – who crooned his way to a wildcard place to this show on Facebook (see earlier video) – also featured in the 2* world ranking 1.45m, although he was denied a win.
British-based Irishman Peter Maloney, who has claimed countless wins for Team Harmony since starting his job as stable jockey in January, posted another victory with the Udarco/Kannan 14-year-old D’Atlantique Royale. The pair forged ahead to win by 0.82 sec.
“He knows his job and is naturally quick, a big horse with a big stride,” said Peter, who was on his first visit to Bolesworth.
Matt eased Carron Nicol’s talented eight-year-old stallion Jaguar VD Berghoeve (Emerald Van T Ruytershof/Nabab De Reve) into second with Ireland’s Mikey Pender in third aboard Casanova Van Overis Z. Brits filled the next seven places with Graham Lovegrove in fourth on Centolove ahead of fifth-placed James Davenport on Creme De La Creme and Jamie Wingrove in sixth aboard Helen Rees’ Bart VI.
Louise Whitaker celebrated her birthday with a win, taking victory on Cleopatra in the 2* 1.40m accumulator with Joker. The 11-year-old Kannan mare claimed a 0.70 sec win.
“I was drawn early, I knew I had to have a go but she’s quick without trying,” said Louise, who secured the win with an early inside turn but played it safe to the final Joker vertical – “It was a short seven strides but I didn’t risk taking one out.”
French-based Brit Alex Rident claimed second on the nine-year-old Come Back with Millie Allen in third aboard the Lord X nine-year-old Lowellie. Scarlett Ward slotted Calista H into fourth with Jess Dimmock’s Billy Anderson in fifth and Kayleigh Watts jumped into sixth on Fashion V.
Ireland ruled in the Equitop Myoplast Puissance as Trevor Breen and Chris Megahey went head-to-head in the final round. Only seven contended over the big red wall and Chris had set out favourite after clearing 2.10m to win at Liverpool with the big-jumping Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier. But on this occasion, Trevor took the spoils as the sole rider to clear 2.15m on the Guidam nine-year-old Lord Luidam. Chris conceded to second with a single brick out of the wall.
“I was riding Lord Luidam tonight for Millie Mason, who is tied up with exams at the moment,” said Trevor. “The Puissance wasn’t the original plan but I went in and he just seemed to get better and better.”
Polly Gredley topped the amateur 1.25m with a flying round on the Concorde 12-year-old Unex Arantos to take the class by 0.72 sec. Flo Norris eased into second on Imago VD Heffinck with Sarah Billington in third aboard Uforia JX. Sarah Borthwick slotted VIP VI into fourth with Joanne McGlory’s Witto fifth and Gemma Wright in sixth on UIlrike Van Overis Z.
Stacey Willsone has quickly established a firm partnership with Tim Page’s former ride Steady The Helm, and the 12-year-old gelding headed the amateur 1.15m for his new rider by 0.11 sec. Molly Andrews took second on Renkum Aristocrat with day one’s winner Tony Pearson on this occasion in third and fourth aboard Amadeus M and Pepito D’Airsain.
Photos © Jumping Around & courtesy Bolesworth International/Trevor Meeks/Spidge Event Photography