Britain’s Robert Smith, 45, is British Open Show Jumping Champion for the second consecutive year. Partnering Kalusha, Smith clocked up just 1 pen in this afternoon’s Finals at Sheffield’s Hallam FM Arena, leaving Switzerland’s Maryline Vorpe, ranked 289th in the world, in second place. Smith’s win marks the first time in history that the British Open title has been won by the same person in consecutive years.
The British Open is a unique format with a championship class every day. After yesterday afternoon’s final qualifying round, the 20 riders were invited to contest the British Open Final. Smith was at the top of the leader board at the beginning of today’s competition, with Vorpe and Mercure du Chable 3.5 faults behind.
In a nail-biting final, Markus Fuchs, who won yesterday’s qualifier clocked up 14.5 pen to finish in 10th place. France’s Florian Angot produced the fastest time in the jump off but a frustrating 10.5 pen in round A left him in fourth position. Eric van der Vleuten from the Netherlands clocked up just 5 pen in rounds A and B and produced an impressive jump off time to take third place.
Robert Smith is delighted to retain the British Open Showing Jumping Champion title. His show jumping career began when he was just seven-years-old and he went on to win the Grand Prix at the Great Yorkshire Show as a teenager. He is currently leading the Western European leader board of the 2006 FEI World Cup Jumping Series.
According to Smith, his 2006 British Open partner Kalusha has not always been an easy ride. “Even though he’s an international horse and wins what he wins, you still can’t call him reliable, but saying that, most horses that are reliable only win a fraction of what he wins. You have to take the rough with the smooth,” Smith explained. He is already looking forward to London 2012 Olympics. “ I would like to be part of – it would be a good round up for me,” he said, “I will be 51 by then but the world’s number one a few years ago was 59. As long as I’ve got the horse power there’s no reason why I can’t be there.”
Two other British riders finished within the top 10 at today’s Championship final. Michael Whitaker and Portofino added just 1 pen to their first round score of 12.5 pen and after a consistent jump off round, finished in fifth place. Eighth position went to Tim Gredley and Omelli.
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