Frenchman Reynald Angot and Tlaloc M, the stallion with whom he partnered into second place in last year’s British Grand Prix, went one place better this year when they produced a tremendous round to win the equivalent class on the second day (Thursday 24 July) of the Royal International at Hickstead.
The top six from round one reached the jump-off, where William Funnell was forced to withdraw Denise Stamp’s Cortaflex Amber Diu Montois after the mare tied up in the collecting ring.
Dutchman Gerco Schroder set what looked a good standard on Eurocommerce Monaca, but he was immediately relegated by an inspired Mark Armstrong (pictured), who made good use of Graf Gold’s long stride and scope to take a 1.5sec lead.
Jan Tops came close on Roofs, but Renald Angot set off at full speed, and Tlaloc, whom he will ride in the Nations Cup, answered every call to win by almost 3.5sec.
Renald also rode Tlaloc on last year’s gold medal-winning World Championship team.
“He loves to jump, so it’s noproblem that he has to jump again tomorrow,” he said. “He’s a real athlete.”
Mark Armstrong was delighted with the inexperienced nine-year-old Graf Gold, who was in Britain’s winning Nations Cup team in Lisbon.
“He was bought with championship teams in mind and he’s been gradually getting better and better,” said the Hampshire-based rider.
Robert Whitaker earlier rode a flying round on Liz Hunt’s good little mare, Karina, to win the earlier Coyle Hamilton Stakes. The pair looked totally unhurried but beat Robert Smith’s standard on Gerry Maguire by a huge margin.
Robert and Karina also finished seventh in the recent Falsterbo Derby.
“She’s a really special horse. She’s brave and always tries her hardest,” said the 20-year-old.
Guy Williams was also celebrating after finishing first and second in the opening two-phase. The hard-working Kent-based rider finished well clear of a huge field, winning on Brendon Stud’s Skip Two Ramiro and collecting second spot with Loro Piana Hamlet.
The British Young Riders title went to New Zealand visitor Katie McVean, who is spending the summer in Essex riding Michael Bates’ horses. On this occasion, however, Katie, 16, was partnering her own mare, Dolly, with whom she has won numerous grand prix in her home country.