William Whitaker scored a handsome victory in the 5* 1.45m with RMF Chacco Top on day two of the Longines Global Champions tour in the fabulous beach setting in Miami to mark his first GCT win.
Twenty-eight contended this speed class and several top riders fell by the wayside as only nine managed a clear round. Ben Maher dropped strides out of the first two related distances, looking on track to take over the lead but Don Vito decided the turn back to the Longines up-right was too tight and this refusal added with later fence left him with 8 faults. And fellow Brit Scott Brash also came out on eight faults with his Mexico speed winner Hello Mr President.
It was left to Shane Breen to set a midway target with the big-striding Colmar and with tight turnbacks the pair set a new time to beat with a comfortable four sec margin.
"I am delighted, Colmar is an inexperienced horse, I didn’t think of him as a speed horse but when you have a big striding horse it pays off. The arena here is like an indoor without the roof so the horses really have to adjust," he said.
But they were still no match for William and he forged ahead in this world ranking speed class to take the top spot on the Chacco-Blue/Graf Top 10-year-old by 0.55 sec.
"The course suited my horse, he is a stallion so can be distracted by his surroundings sometimes. Shane set a fast time leaving no area for you have a breather, I would have liked to have had one less to the second to last but I am thrilled with the way he jumped, he has all the potential he is a really great one to have on the team," said William.
France’s speedy Simon Delestre had to settle for second on Filou Carlo Zimequest and Germany’s Daniel Deusser slotted Cornet into third. Shane Breen was 1.51 sec in arrears of the winning time for fourth with the Colestus nine-year-old Colmar.
Ben and Don Vito improved in the final class of the day, taking second in the 1.50m. Twelve of the 39 came back for the jump-off over a technical 13-fence track ending over a tricky final line with delicate poles and a short four-stride distance which demanded ultimate care.
Ben claimed a midway but brief lead with the Quaprice Z/Jus De Pomme 11-year-old, making a smooth turn after the Longines oxer, clipping the wing of the Miami Beach vertical but leaving it up with a race to the finish. But Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts and Cataleya 3 immiediately shaved almost another full second off Ben’s time, the pair lighting up the arena and producing a smooth and flowing round to win by 0.77 sec.
Spectators cheered as Scott and Hello Senator entered the arena. The pair galloped around the arena but Senator put the brakes on at the Longines plank, the turn too tight for the gelding’s liking and he refused at the final moment and they dropped to 12th.
Amanda Derbyshire steered Oasis Spirit into second in the 22-strong 2* 1.45m speed, the nine-year-old Cobra mare finishing 1.58 sec behind the winner, The USA’s Brian Moggre and MTM Los Angeles.
In St Tropez, after posting a clear in day one’s world ranking 4* 1.45m speed to take 20th, Amy Inglis and Wishes provided the steadiest of the double clears to take 13th in the 56-strong 4* 1.50m – also a world ranking class. Billy Twomey jumped for clear and four on Lady Lou to finish 17th in the 19-horse decider.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around & LGCT/Stefano Grasso