William Whitaker is oh so close to grand prix victory in Opglabbeek

William Whitaker was denied victory in the feature 2* grand prix by the tiniest of fractions in Opglabbeek, Belgium, and had to settle for second with RMF Echo.

The on-form William, who had already clocked two wins at this show, was out for another win with the Virus De Laubry 15-year-old and was one of 10 clears from an original field of 67, although a further eight riders finished on time faults only.  And it was all about the clock as seven riders produced double clears with William in contention all the way, but he just dropped short of the time to cross the line for the runner-up spot only 0.05 sec in arrears of the winner, Belgium’s Tim Prouve on Orson Des Hayettes.

William jumped an easy double clear in the concluding 1* 1.35m grand prix to take seventh on RMF Bella Baloubet.  Fourteen of the 34 starters tackled the jump-off with William and the Baloubet Du Rouet 18-year-old finishing more than four sec off the pace.  Maya Burnell posted the steadiest of the double clears on Ixy Van De Nachtegaele for 11th spot.

 Iwan Carpenter jumped into second on the 1* 1.30m speed with Jordanta Van De Eyckenhoeve.  Sixty-seven contended this class with Iwan finishing three sec behind the winner on the 10-year-old Cicero Z mare.  Iwan’s elder brother Morgan guided Merllyns Chocca Nova into sixth with Emily Mason 10th on Fabulous and Maya Burnell also touted a clear round for 17th on Carlosspri.

Iwan posted a double clear in the 71-strong five-year-old 1.15m/six-year-old 1.25m in a 27-horse decider to take eighth on the Capri Van Overis Z five-year-old Merllyns Tiger Lily more than three sec off the pace.

Tabitha Dean slotted the 11-year-old Blown Away into sixth in the 40-entry 2* 1.35m speed with an easy clear almost 10 sec off the pace.


Ellen Whitaker steered Diola into fourth in the 40-horse 5* 1.40m speed in Gijon, Spain.  Ellen and the home-bred 10-year-old Locarno daughter finished 2.66 sec behind the winner, Ireland’s Alexander Butler on Dekato.  David Simpson eased Jenson 55 into ninth and Helen Tredwell was also clear for 12th on Sebastian VII.  

Four faults kept the Brits out of the jump-off in the 48-strong 5* 1.60m grand prix with Ellen on Arena UK Winston, Joe Clayton with Baldur 75 and Helen Tredwell’s Galtur all making one mistake to finish 13th, 15th and 19th.  Ireland’s Greg Broderick took the win in the 12-horse decider on Westbrook.

But Ellen’s efforts over the week earned two leading rider awards.  She claimed the best athlete award from the 5* classes by 3.5 points and also topped the best rider award in the young horse classes after winning the seven-year-old grand prix on the Bullock family’s Hulahupe JR eight points ahead of fellow Brit Jodie Hall-McAteer in second.


Anthony Condon joined the seven-horse jump-off in the 4* grand prix in Valence, France, with the Hales family’s SFS Aristio to claim a place.

Fifty initially contended with a challenging track drastically reducing the number of clears to seven – although three more riders returned on just one time fault – but four faults in round two dropped Anthony and the 13-year-old Arko stallion son down to sixth.  France’s Roger Yves Bost took the win on Sangria Du Coty.

Jess Mendoza guided Quidams Rubenbos S Z into second in the 3* 1.30m.  Twelve of the 34 starters contended the jump-off with Jess easing the Quidam’s Rubin/Zapateado 12-year-old into the runner-up spot 1.17 sec behind the winner, Italy’s Emilio Bicocchi on Rondine Del Terriccio.  Christina Gachoud left all the fences up in round one but returned on two time faults for 16th and Laura Renwick’s Maverick produced the fastest four to take 17th.  

Michael Whitaker eased El Wee Widge into third in the 34-entry 4* 1.45m two-phase, the Wheaweij 10-year-old finishing 1.04 sec behind the pace.  Shane Breen was double clear to take eighth on Evita and one time fault put Jack Whitaker and Elucar VE into 14th spot.

Michael was part of the eight-strong jump-off of the 46-horse world ranking 3* 1.50m grand prix but eight faults in round two dropped Freud Del Cabanon Cavalier – Pro down to eighth.


Flo Norris was only a fraction from victory on the final day at the Stephex Masters in Brussels and had to settle for second.  She eased Kadance Van’t Lozerhof into the runner-up spot in the 37-strong 2* 1.35m two-phase, the nine-year-old Kashmir Van Schuttershof mare just 0.09 sec off the winning time.

Belgium's Niels Bruynseels claimed the 5* grand prix in a 10-horse decider on Gancia De Muze with 0.28 sec in hand over The Netherlands' Harrie Smolders on Don VHP Z.





In Ciekocinko, Poland, on the Baltica tour, Stacey Willsone again had to settle for second as she repeated Friday’s results in Saturday’s silver 1m speed on Alsager, finishing six sec off the pace.



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