In a most unusual result, the top honours in the accumulator with joker was shared after two riders dead-heated on time – Britain’s Mennell Watson and Whisper In The Wind equalling the Netherlands’ world number six rider Harrie Smolders’ opening round on Cas 2 to share top spot.
It seemed Harrie had killed the class with his quick, deadly accurate and clean round on the Indoctro/Numero Uno 10-year-old Cas 2 as they cleared the joker of planks with inches to spare. And they remained on top despite several challenges until mid-drawn Mennell galloped around the track and Heln van Heyningen’s game home-bred nine-year-old Cobretti stallion Whisper In The Wind cleared the troublesome joker – only to stop the clock at exactly the same time.
No-one else came close, Louise Saywell as nearest rival taking third on Graham Ward’s Chicago Z 12-year-old Feigtling 0.38 sec adrift of the time.
Phillip Miller eased Brendon Stud’s home-bred Caretino Glory mare Sussex Caretino into fourth with British-based Swede Angelie von Essen in fifth on Cochella. Julie Andrews slotted Wilando B into sixth just ahead of Holly Smith on the talented seven-year-old Grennanstown Sarco Luxhill.
Frenchman Titouan Schumacher made his HOYS debut a winning one in the Thistledown Stakes seven-horse jump-off. Second in the welcome stakes, Titouan, 23, claimed the win with the 15-year-old mare Oceane De Nantuel with 0.38 sec to spare.
“She’s really fast and on really good form,” said Titouan, who is based in France close to Guy Williams.
Brits filled five of the next six places, Helen Tredwell and home-bred 12-year-old Vangelis S/Larino mare Larksong claiming second with William Funnell and his home-bred nine-year-old Billy McCain (Cevin Z/Cruising) taking third.
Mennell Watson guided Kirsty Hardstaff’s 13-year-old Quid into fourth with the last of the double clears ahead of Robert Whitaker’s Cash Sent in fifth.
British-based Angelie von Essen took sixth on Daniel and John Whitaker claimed seventh aboard Comme Il Faut – a 10-year-old Diamant De Semilly/Carnute stallion not to be confused with Germany’s Marcus Ehning’s top 5* stallion.