Michael Whitaker completed a fantastic day for his family by riding Insultech Portofino to victory in the opening leg of this year’s British Open Show Jumping Championship at Sheffield’s Hallam FM Arena.

A wonderfully smooth round from the Yorkshireman put him just 0.13sec ahead of wildcard qualifier David McPherson, who rode a classy round on another mare, Bob Moore’s good Bob’s Diamond.

Dutchman Eric van der Vleuten was third on Paloma, with reigning champions Robert Smith and Kalusha looking dangerous in fourth. Good rounds from Robert Whitaker (La Croix), Geoff Luckett (Compliment) and Tim Stockdale (Fresh Direct Corlato) also put them in contention for Sunday’s showpiece class.

Michael was delighted with Portofino, saying: “She felt really good and that was as good a round as she’s jumped here.”

Ellen Whitaker opened the show with a great performance on Kanselier to win the Steel City Shield, while the masters’ jump-off resulted in a “Whitaker whitewash”. John produced a fantastic round on Exploit Du Roulard, chased all the way by son Robert with the lovely coloured horse, Nureev.

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