In complete contrast to last years ‘rain soaked’ show, the Equerry Horse Feeds grand prix at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show turned into a tantalising sizzler in temperatures touching 30 degrees.
With 11 hopefuls making up the top 25% in the first round – four clears, one on a time fault and four on four faults winning through to the final jump-off, it was game on.
Tactics came into play early when Robert Whitaker produced a steady clear with Catwalk IV (58.83sec) to add another time fault to the one incurred in the first round.
This put the pressure on the following riders to maintain their zero score and it was locally based Irishman Anthony Condon who played the winning hand riding his own and Kat Taylor’s Balzac (49.86sec).
“The plan was to jump clear again without rushing too much and the time given allowed us to do that,” said Anthony, who is based at the near-bye Harthill Stud.
“Balzac has plenty of blood and he’s going well at this level having jumped two Nations Cups and he won a five-star class in Lummen.”
Watch the hilarious videos of Matt Sampson singing his heart out
The pair finished on identical scores in the seriously competitive CSI5* grand prix — but that is just the start
Britain's top female vaulter and two RDA volunteers have also been honoured
After William Whitaker and Fandango lowered two fences to add eight faults to their zero score, Cheshire rider Keith Shore and Mystic Hurricane (Hurry) were the first to overtake Robert Whitaker’s two penalties, and local cheers rang out when he produced the first and one of only two double clears (53.53sec).
“This was the biggest grand prix course I can remember here and although Hurry isn’t the quickest horse, he is pretty reliable over big fences,” said Keith, who field masters over the Bolesworth Estate with the Cheshire Hunt.
After the last two riders Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Rokfeller De Pleville Bois Margot) and the 2016 grand prix winners Michel Hendrix (Baileys) both incurred four faults, it was Anthony, Keith and Robert who took the podium places.
Robert Whitaker was happy to take third place after Catwalk IV left every fence up at the expense of just two time faults.
“Catwalk has been clear in his last few grands prix, so I was quite happy to take our time,” said Robert.
Bolesworth grand prix result
- Balzac (Anthony Condon)
- Mystic Hurricane (Keith Shore)
- Catwalk IV (Robert Whitaker)
- Casanova De L’Herse (Francois Mathy)
- Team De Coquerie (Darragh Kenny)
- Baileys (Michele Hendrix)
- Rokfeller De Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Alvarez-Aznar)
- Viking (Michael Whitaker)