Robert Whitaker (pictured) hit top form on the second day of the Chester International show when the 20-year-old Yorkshireman produced a flying round to take the £2,500 top prize in the major class, the Premier Consulting UK Speed Stakes, on Liz Hunt’s lovely mare, Karina.
He and the Dutch-bred bay cut a cool 2sec off the leading time by another rider from Yorkshire, Paul Barker, on Blue Chip Quinton.
Robert, who rode the winning round for Britain’s Nations Cup team in Lisbon, had been experimenting with bits since then, as Karina had been getting strong at international shows. However, he decided to revert back to the tried and tested three-thing version for this class.
“She felt back to her best and I just had to go with her,” said Robert.
It was a real family occasion, as Robert’s 17-year-old cousin, Ellen, won the earlier Clocktower Stakes on her junior European Championship partner, Kanselier, who held off Robert Smith and Mr Springfield by almost 1sec.
The opening two-phase Esengroup Stakes went to 18-year-old Belgian rider, Sam Mottmans, who pulled off a brilliant early cut inside on Irco Polo to finish fractionally ahead of Guy Williams on Loro Piana Hamlet.
Juniors also had the chance to take centre stage in the £300-to-the-winner Tapsell and Whitehouse JA competition.
In a 12-pony jump-off, Jack Shackleton and the marvellous veteran, Landown Three’s Are Wild, jumped the sole double clear to gain their biggest victory since joining forces at the beginning of the year.