John Whitaker is the master at HOYS


John Whitaker produced a magical, crowd-pleasing round in the big class of the evening, the world ranking 1.55m Stoneleigh Stakes with the Arko stallion Argento.

The class was unusual, the 10 riders choosing their own route in a take your own line jump-off over six fences which had to include a double.

Several riders opted for the same route after watching early contenders on the screen in the collecting ring with Phillip Miller taking the lead on Emma Ziff’s Moschino eight-year-old Roulette H.

But John decided on an entirely different track.

“I worked it out in my mind and it’s hard watching the monitor as it doesn’t show the entire ring and it can get confusing when you watch others, so I decided to stick with it,” said John, who finished with a tight turn after his last fence to take a long gallop to break the beam with 0.42 sec in hand.

“It’s better to gallop through the finish than gallop at a fence.”

Argento returned to competition four months after an injury incurred at Olympia, starting with small shows and working his way back up.

“He’s been back at top level for two months now and was placed twice in Rome two weeks ago and he’s on good form,” said John. “I rode him for this morning’s exercise and he was very fresh, there were little ponies and cobs flying about, it wound him up and perhaps did him good.”

The 15-year-old stallion will have tomorrow off and be ready for Sunday’s grand prix.

Phillip Miller and Roulette finished second with Czech’s Augier De Moussac third on JCS Chacco Dia in third. Ireland filled the next two spots with Paul Kennedy in fourth on Cartown Danger Mouse and Anthony Condon claimed fifth aboard Balzac.

Photos © Jumping Around

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