While his brother William recorded his first win in Wellington, USA, James Whitaker kept the Whitaker flag flying in Belgium with a convincing victory in the Opglabbeek 2* 1.45m grand prix on Merna Merrett’s Lammy Beach.
A big field of 73 initially contended the grand prix but the 12-fence track proved challenging and only eight survived to go forward to the jump-off.
James took over the ride on this Beach Ball/Coevers Diamond Boy 11-year-old at the end of December as William made the move to America and has quickly established a rapport. And he confidently forged ahead over the raised track to claim his first win the month-long partnership with 0.59 sec to spare over France’s Gregory Cottard on Urhelia Lutterbach.
Joe Clee recorded a win in the seven-year-old 1.30m speed with Hornesch. Fifty-three tackled this hotly-contended class but Joe found the shortest route to win by 0.17 sec on the Inshallah De Muze/Indoctro stallion.
Joe also picked up seventh in the 105-horse 1.35m speed on the Kashmir Van Schuttershof eight-year-old Lafayette Van Overis 3.65 sec behind the pace.
Carron Nicol posted a double clear in the 86-strong 1.40m two-phase with Nistria V/D Winning Z, the eight-year-old Nonstop mare finishing more than three sec off the pace.
An easy double clear in the five and six-year-old earned Carron fifth spot with her home-bred six-year-old Vistogrand (Fantaland/Mr Visto) 2.93 sec behind the winner. Four faults in the second phase put Chris Moyce and the Beowulf six-year-old Brambley Boy into 12th.