Reigning British Open champion Jessica Kurten put herself back in the reckoning in Birmingham with a breath-taking round on Quibell to deservedly head the second leg of the British Open qualifier.
“I over-cooked the goose yesterday (eight faults put her in 16th) and had to do something spectacular today,” said Jessica, who risked a virtually impossible line to the final imposing planks — the only one to dare — to move into fifth in the Standings Table.
The 12 strong jump-off made a record itself, with all five Whitakers jumping initial clears. Michael was the first to challenge the lead with Insul Tech Wonami Van Aard. This Bon Ami daughter was a second slower, taking an eventual third when John pushed Casino slightly ahead, sufficient for him to now head the leaderboard.
Drawn last, Robert was in contention until La Croix chipped the back rail of an oxer to drop them in ninth but still keeps him in the frame for the final just one and a half points behind his father.
Ellen Whitaker brought new ride Ocolado in fourth with cousin William just behind on Arielle.
Following his spectacular win the previous evening, Robert Whitaker compounded his form in Friday morning’s hotly contested Grandstand Classic in a 12 strong jump-off, on this occasion riding Rusedski.
“He’s returned fresh from a six week rest and won well,” said Robert.
Hailed as the round of the show so far, Nick Skelton annihilated the opposition in a masterclass of speed riding to top the Accumulator by almost three secs on Lisa Hales’s Russel.
This track was made for Russel’s ability to gallop at fences, especially the imposing ‘Joker’ vertical, and the striking stallion looks at his best after a four month break.
The World Class Development Programme Championship for Under 23-year-olds saw Brendon Stud stallions lift the top two places.
Scott Brash’s opener on Sebastian III, a winner for him on Portugal’s recent Atlantic Tour, looked sufficient for the top spot but Louise Pavitt, verbally encouraged by the audience, set off galloping and kept the momentum on Unbelievable Darco.
“I knew the track would suit him” said Louise.
Georgie Spence’s show jumping experience may have helped in the Red Mills Horse Feeds Indoor Cross Country Championship, but she certainly picked up the speed when crossing disciplines.
“I kept tight between two and three in the show jumping, then galloped flat out on the cross-country” said Georgie, the youngest competitor at 19 and incredibly some three secs in front of second placed Mark Kyle on Drunken Disorderly despite carrying a three sec penalty from a lowered pole. Professionally stylish, William Fox-Pitt was third on Ballincoola in his first visit to the show.
1. Rusedski II (Robert Whitaker)
2. Robin (Geoff Luckett)
3. Rex (Mark Armstrong)
WORLD CLASS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Unbelievable Darco (Louise Pavitt)
2. Sebastian III (Scott Brash)
3. Osiris (Gemma Paternoster)
1. Russel (Nick Skelton)
2. VDL Groep Owendel (Eric Van Der Vleuten)
3. Castle Forbes Vivaldo Van Het Costerveld (Jessica Kurten)
RED MILLS HORSE FEEDS INDOOR CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Song For Gull (Georgie Spence), GBR (3 secs to add) Total time 73.46
2 Drunken Disorderly (Mark Kyle), IRE (0) 76.45
3 Ballincoola (William Fox-Pitt), GBR (0) 81.33
BRITISH OPEN QUALIFIER SECTION TWO
1 Quibell (Jessica Kurten)
2 Casino (John Whitaker)
3 Insul Tech Wonami Van Den Aard (Michael Whitaker)