Robert Whitaker regained the British Open Championship crown with top ride La Croix in a brilliant display of ice-cool nerve.
Champion in 2003, Robert earned the prime draw by winning the first leg, taking ninth in the second and securing second in the last speed leg to top the leaderboard by six points.
This gave him a valuable fence in hand thanks to Rusedski’s efforts in the third qualifying competition.
And he needed the lifeline when the orange vertical by the collecting ring fell.
“I felt the pressure but just concentrated on keeping him relaxed and jumping clear,” said Robert, who kept his nerve to negotiate the rest of the track clear and pocket over £25,000.
In total Whitaker domination, Michael brought Insul Tech Wonami Van Aard into second with Puissance winner William third on his World Cup Final ride Arielle.
Asked if there had ever been a Whitaker one, two, three before, Robert joked: “Maybe at Markfield [Leicestershire Show Arena] in the Newcomers, but there’s only one winner.”
“We felt sorry for Robert, so we let him win,” shot back Michael.
Delayed by overnight snow en route from her Sussex base, Nicole Pavitt almost missed the PCA easibed plus Futura Final, arriving with five minutes to spare, but shrugged off the panic to lay claim to the top two places.
“We almost turned back at one stage, but I saddled up while travelling,” said Nicole, who made this show a family affair after sister Louise had topped the first day’s BSJA Winter Premier Grand Prix.
Stylish but extremely fast, Nicole set a sizzling target with first ride Maestro De Rend Peine and then proceeded to bring Amaryllis Van De Heffink into second with the only other clear.
The Speed Stakes was just that, speedy. Times grew progressively faster but the title was finally awarded to former speedway rider Geoff Luckett’s amazing round on Jo Passetti’s Robin.
“He was proper and I was so impressed with his attitude; he’s never seen anything like this calibre of show but took it all in his stride,” said Geoff, who held off Ellen Whitaker’s bid on Cortaflex Kanselier by a quarter of a sec.
PCA easibed plus Futura Final
1. Maestro De Rend Peine (Nicole Pavitt), GBR
2. Amaryllis Van De Heffink (Nicole Pavitt), GBR
3. Cointreau Z (Dale Burnham), GBR
British Speed Stakes
1. Robin (Geoff Luckett), GBR
2. Cortaflex Kanselier (Ellen Whitaker), GBR
3. Sarlino (William Whitaker), GBR
British Open Championship Final
1. La Croix 9 (Robert Whitaker), GBR
2. Insul Tech Wonami Van Den Aard (Michael Whitaker), GBR
3. Arielle (William Whitaker), GBR