James Smith lands his second 2* grand prix in less than a week


James Smith is on invincible form. Five days after winning the Wettenhall 2* grand prix on Balibu, he topped the feature 2* grand prix at Keysoe International, on this oocasion with recent acquisition Twix De La Roque.

“He’s getting better every time out, potentially he’s a top horse for me,” said James on the former ride of Michel Hecart.

A total off 52 tackled this top-billed class but just seven returned first round clears over Kelvin Bywater’s tough, 13-fence track. And the jump-off was a British whitewash, six Brits pitted against just one lone Irish rider. Only two posted second round clears, James sewing up the top spot on the big-jumping Twix to take victory just shy of a four sec advantage.

The Kannan 10-year-old – who is out of the Cumano mare Nasa, a former top ride of Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat – joined James two months ago.

"James has notched up three big wins in two weeks with the Royal Highland grand prix, British Masters 2* grand prix and now the 2* grand prix here," said an impressed British chef d'equipe Di Lampard.

Holly Smith came home with the only other jump-off clear with the consistent nine-year-old Qualty Old Joker. And the result earned Holly the top HOYS wildcard ticket – earning her a week of entries in the International classes at the prestigious NEC show in October. Louise Saywell – a winner earlier in the week and placed fifth here – took the second HOYS wildcard place.

"Two worthy riders rode consistently well over the three days to take the wildcards," said Di Lampard.

Phillip Miller made just one mistake on Brendon Stud’s home-bred Unbelievable Darco daughter Unbelievable Lady for third, but no-one came near James’ ultra-quick time. Also on four faults, Amy Inglis guided Wishes into fourth with Louise aboard Eindhoven GH in fifth. Ireland’s Richard Howley took sixth on Dolores and Jess Dimmock finished seventh with Cassius Clay – both returning on eight faults.

Dale Burnham landed the concluding 38-entry 1.35m two-phase on Doriena, the Cardento/Goodtimes nine-year-old racing to the finish to win by 0.90 sec. Belgium-based Brit Graham Gillespie claimed second spot on the Odermus R/Kojak eight-year-old mare Eodyminka with Mennell Watson and Outcast in third. Chelsea Skelton guided Caramba into fourth just ahead of Ireland’s Chris Megahey on Fardence.

Paul Barker was unbeatable in the 1.25m with Sandors Legacy. A three-time winner at Wettenhall 2* just a few days earlier – Paul had headed the previous day’s 1.25m with the 12-year-old Sandors Legacy by a narrow margin, but on the final day he stormed to victory with more than four sec to spare.

Sixteen clears from 82 starters went forward to a hot jump-off, with Emma Slater taking second aboard the seven-year-old Balou Star stallion Ruxton Hullabalou. Sadie Lupson netted third place with FSS Thumbelina, pushing Nick Benterman into fourth on Frau Antje and Beth Vernon picked up fifth spot on Fenix.

Jo McGlory claimed two of the top four places in the final day’s 1.15m, winning on Witro, a new ride of two months, and taking fourth with Darcobal Fravanca. Eighteen of the 49 starters reached the jump-off with Jo claiming the top spot on the Indoctro 14-year-old Witro with 0.42 sec to spare. Ireland’s Trevor Nicholson rode the Belgian-bred 11-year-old Gunar S into second with winner of the previous two days Julian Mincher on this occasion in third aboard Diretto. Jo and Fravanca took fourth with Ruby Pointer’Dusty Van Het Hek in fifth ahead of Ruth Reay’s Call Girl in sixth.

Zak Beesley netted the top spot of the six-year-old grand prix by 0.56 sec with the British-bred mare Optimistic. Kayleigh Watts claimed second in the 10-strong decider on Princess Warrior (Warrior/Pierrot) to make it a British one-two with Ireland’s Anthony Condon in third aboard Off The Record. India Bussey took fourth with the steadiest of the double clears on the six-year-old Billy Colman and Jess Dimock rode Billy Fleance into fifth.

Harry Bateman raced to the top to claim the five-year-old grand prix with Heerdelon. The consistent Toulon/Lux mare was second at Chepstow and third at Northcote Stud, but there was no mistaking the intentions here, and the pair galloped ahead to claim victory by 1.40 sec. Julian Mincher guided Elda Balou into second with Chloe Coward’s H-Blokx in third. Eleven of the 0riginal 42 starters tackled the jump-off, with Holly Smith in fourth on Manolito P and Lucy Wood’s H in fifth. Harry also picked up sixth with Ivano Z and Lucy Turner provided the steadiest double clear for seventh on Happy Design.

Photos © Jumping Around

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