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Robert Smith opened his HOYS 2004 account with a great early-draw victory on Kalusha in the Dick Turpin Stakes.

Although this was a speed class, course-designer Bob Ellis put the premium on jumping ability and the versatile grey was foot-perfect all the way to hold off the challenge from Tim Stockdale and Fresh Direct Glenwood Springs by 0.5sec.

“It was a horrible track for Kalusha and I didn’t think it would suit him at all, but he’s a real winner and he tried all the way,” said Robert.

Another Robert — Robert Bevis — won the prestigious Aon Six-Year-Old Championship from the front with a lovely round on Kate Mustill’s Radetsky S.

Wrexham-based Robert kept moving all the way and only two of his eight jump-off rivals could emulate him. Giles Turner was runner-up on his bouncy little Rumonia M and Simon Davies finished third with Bajan Blue.

“When Kate and I bought Radetsky from Emil and Paul Hendrix in Holland last March, they said that he would make a grand prix horse. After today, I have no reason to doubt them,” said Robert.

The first title of the day, the Blue Chip Junior Newcomers, went to the youngest rider in the class, 11-year-old Emma Stoker. Emma rode a brilliant round to beat the standard set by double pony European gold medallist Hannah Paul on Silvia by just 0.2sec.

Emma, who was enjoying her first HOYS victory, now has her sights set on the 128cm and 138cm championships with her other ponies.