Robert Whitaker lands the grand prix at Keysoe International
A member of the Whitaker family again claimed Keysoe International’s top-billed, world-ranking 1.45m grand prix. Last year, Michael Whitaker and JB’s Hot Stuff claimed victory, in 2017, his nephew Robert Whitaker came to the fore with his 5* ride Catwalk IV.
Twelve of the 40 starters jumped first round clears to make their way to the jump-off, but none were a match for Robert and the on-form Catwalk, the Colman 14-year-old easily wiping 0.62 sec off the leading time to take the 2017 Keysoe grand prix title.
“He’s been amazing for me through his career up to 5* grands prix. It took a while for him to come right, but the older he gets, the better he is. It doesn't matter how big it is, you don't need to be nervous with him,” said Robert.
Ireland’s Trevor Breen had to settle for second with the 10-year-old Lord Z daughter Bombay finishing slightly ahead of Yazmin Davis and her Oswestry 2* grand prix winner Zilverster II. Six riders posted double clears, Robert’s sister Louise claiming fourth on Ruby VIII with Harry Wainwright in fifth on Pinheiro Beech and James Wilson filled sixth place aboard Eskola M.
Winner of day one’s 1.40m on Luron S Z, Joe Clayton doubled up with the concluding 26-strong 1.35m two-phase with Jane Heerbeck’s C Indoctro II 10-year-old Carolus K with almost two sec to spare.
Chloe Winchester jumped into second with the Berlin 11-year-old Belle Fleur 38 and Holly Smith claimed third aboard Opis Day. Michaela Webb rode Stellar Skylight into fourth with William Walker’s Elvis Van De Vunte in fifth just ahead of sixth-placed Jack Whitaker on Arlo De Blondel.
Chloe landed the 1.25m with Little Luidam – a fitting tribute to late rider Ella Popely, who would have celebrated her 19th birthday this week.
Thirty-three of the 74 starters tackled the jump-off, but Chloe has quickly developed a rapport with this Luidam/Darco 12-year-old and the pair raced ahead to record victory by 0.95 sec.
Harriet Nuttall jumped Silver Lift into second with Beth Vernon’s Fenix taking third. Robert Whitaker netted fourth on Contendro Star with Joe Clayton fifth aboard Eye Catcher and Katie Waldock-Smith claimed sixth on Creevagh Tompico.
Nicole Pavitt found the shortest route in the six-year-old final with Gianni HC (Padinus/Landon), topping the 14-strong decider with just 0.23 sec to spare.
“He’ my favourite, he takes it all in his own stride and has the best brain – he makes everything so easy,” said Nicole.
Carron Nicol and her talented HOYS Foxhunter finalist Galerius – a Diamant De Semilly/Sandro Boy stallion bought from Sovereign Equestrian – claimed second spot with Mimi Beecher in third on Carrera Van Maarle Z. Rebecca Mason slotted Pure Pleasure into fourth with Joe Clayton’s Gwendolin in fifth and Libby Newman aboard Gasiloma SB took sixth.
Chloe Coward topped the five-year-old final with her super-quick, consistent H Blokx (Der Senaat III/Placido) with 0.89 sec to spare in the 12-strong jump-off.
He’s gone clear every day and he’s so careful, I can gallop him to anything and know he’ll get his legs out of the way – he’d do it on his own if needed,” said Chloe.
Holly Smith jumped Manolito P (I’m Special De Muze/Lovefever II) into second with Adam Botham on Be Caprivi in third. Nicola Barry on Sovereign Equestrian’s Highhope DD took fourth place ahead of Yazmin Davis on Hope WV in fifth and sixth-placed Donna Callaghan on Hamalinde P.
Adam Botham jumped to the top in the small tour 1.15m grand prix with Flipper Nouvelle in a strong 22-horse jump-off. Fresh form their win in the Blue Chip Karma performance at Onley Grounds, Adam and the Flipper d’Elle/Levantos I seven-year-old again proved unbeatable, claiming the top spot by 0.74 sec.
“He loves winning, he’s very fast, very careful and just easy to ride – I just point him,” said Adam.
Rosie Gunn slipped the Arezzo VDL/C Indoctro II gelding Jagerbomb into second place just ahead of Nina Emery’s Galaxy III. Rachel Reed took fourth on Cavaccio with Jodie Hall-McAteer in fifth on TJ Quincy and Michaela Tomlinson took sixth aboard Cabela.
Photos © Jumping Around & Hoof Prints/courtesy Keysoe