John Whitaker put himself into the reckoning for the European Championships this summer with a classy win on Argento II in the Hagen grand prix in Germany last weekend (21 April).

“We’ll take it as it comes — he’s still improving and a championship would be the next step up,” said John of the 11-year-old stallion. “But he would have a chance — he’s an out-and-out winner.”

The 13-strong jump-off for the €18,750 first prize was extremely competitive. Argento finished just 0.1sec ahead of second-placed Unbelievable 5, ridden by home favourite Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum.

It’s always tough to win in Germany,” said John, who made the most of Argento’s power and pace over a galloping track, which ended with a 1.50m vertical. “It was a good class — the first round was tough enough. Luciana [Diniz, eventual third] was in the lead when I went in and she was quick. But Argento was raring to go. He was third in the big class on Friday and feels in very good form at the moment. He was definitely up for it today.”

Meredith paid tribute to the speed of her relatively new ride.

“He has amazing talent and today we also saw that he is fast,” she said. “He developed a lot during the two months we were in the US. Even if he is big, he suits me — he has a lot of power.”

Robert Whitaker, who had progressed to the jump-off as the fastest four-faulter from round one, moved up to seventh with Catwalk 14, netting €3,000.

“It was a difficult enough course,” said Robert, who had enjoyed several good placings with both Catwalk and UB One throughout the show. “But when I had one down I kept forward, thinking I might go through — and it paid off.

It’s a fantastic show — very well organised with good prize-money.”

Photo: Karl-Heinz Frieler