British Open gets underway

  • John Whitaker and Sheffield-born German rider Helena Weinberg share the lead in the points table after the day’s jumping at the new British Open Championships at the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield.

    John and his 20-year-old son, Robert delighted the Yorkshire crowd by winning two of the classes on offer, although the opening Thomas Bates Welcome Stakes went to world number two Marcus Fuchs, who travelled here straight from finishing fifth in the World Cup final in Las Vegas.

    Marcus and Royal Charmer spoiled what would have been a perfect day for the Whitakers, as they reduced the leading time by Michael Whitaker and Haddon House Carlson by a fraction.

    The Swiss star is already a big fan of the show and said: “This arena is fantastic. It would be the perfect venue for the World Cup.”

    In the Yorkshire Post speed stakes, Robert Whitaker jumped such a brilliant round from 10th draw on the stallion Quinten II that no one could get near him.His closest challenger was his father, who finished 2 seconds slower on another stallion, Lord Z.

    Although delighted to win, Robert thought that he might have gone too fast.”We’re trying to collect points towards Sunday’s championship, so I didn’t really have to try so hard. My competitive instinct took over.”

    Therewas a perfect finish for the enthusiastic crowd when John Whitaker’s early-drawn flyer on Pauline Woodward’s big grey Lactic Two proved far too good for his eight jump-off rivals in the Grandstand Classic.

    The Yorkshireman was at his best, beating by almost 8 seconds another of the great British names, Nick Skelton, whose ride, John and Lisa Hales’s young stallion Russell, was also very impressive.

    Young riders also enjoyed a moment in the spotlight in the Unex Corporation Classic, which produced the perfect result for sponsor Bill Gredley when his 17-year-old son, Tim, jumped the sole double clear on Medrano.

    This was the first major show jumping victory for Newmarket-based Tim, a winner at HOYS and the RIHS on intermediate working hunters.”I got a bit bored with showing and decided to take up show jumping instead. I’m so pleased that I did,” he said.

    For more information and results from the British Open Show Jumping Championships visit: www.britishopenshowjumping.com

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