British star Robert Whitaker continued his world-class form during day three of the Ashford Farm CSI**** Bolesworth International in Cheshire by winning another headline four-star competition on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Yorkshireman followed up his victory with Catwalk IV in Friday’s 1.55m class by collecting his second successive £7,260 winner’s purse, landing the 1.45m jump-off, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds.
With Catwalk taking a breather ahead of contesting Sunday’s Redrow Homes Grand Prix, Whitaker turned to the tried and tested 14-year-old bay stallion USA Today as his latest Bolesworth challenger.
And he did not disappoint, clocking 38.49 seconds to conquer a tight, twisting jump-off course that generated mishaps for several of the 18 combinations that made it through round one.
Irish contender Captain Michael Kelly finished second on Drumiller Lough, just 17 hundredths of a second behind Whitaker, with another Irish duo – Edward Doyle and Mullaghdrin Touch the Stars – third, just in front of Jade Burgess and Severly Hille.
“The first round was quite tricky, but there were quite a few clears, and I had a good draw in the jump-off, which helped,” said Whitaker, whose run of recent successes will undoubtedly keep him firmly on the Great Britain selection radar ahead of the European Championships in Germany later this summer.
“If you are first to go in a jump-off when there are so many clears, it’s difficult. It just worked out well for me, really.”
Speed queen Laura Renwick, meanwhile, enjoyed another dash to glory with Beluga as one of showjumping’s most exciting combinations claimed a second win of this year’s Bolesworth spectacular.
Essex-based Renwick won the show’s opening four-star class aboard the 14-year-old bay mare on Thursday morning in the International Arena. Saturday’s action saw them in the Castle Arena, and they triumphed again, taking the 1.35m speed class, sponsored by Equiline, in emphatic fashion.
A time of 56.16 seconds saw them finish more than two seconds clear of a 32-strong field, with James Smith and Cumina taking second place, followed by Belgium’s Jos Verlooy in third on Clearwater 5 and Keith Shore fourth aboard Rubiroso JX.
“She is so fast, and I know if I leave the jumps up she is going to be there or thereabouts. I am very lucky in that respect,” Renwick said.
“She is not a slow horse, so she is always going to be in with a shout if the fences stay up.”
And the highlight of Saturday’s two-star competitions saw Brazilian Marlon Modolo Zanotelli continue his impressive run by claiming a fourth Bolesworth win in three days.
Zanotelli, who is firmly on course to feature for Brazil’s showjumping team at the Rio Olympics next year, added the two-star 1.45metre grand prix, sponsored by Ashford Farm, to his impressive Bolesworth collection.
The two-round class, followed by a jump-off, saw Zanotelli deliver the goods each time on Casper 297, culminating in them clocking 35.85 seconds to edge out Norway’s Johan-Sebastian Gulliksen on Charleville, while Belgian challenger Mike Van Olst took third spot aboard Top Top.
Zanotelli, who collected £7,260 for his efforts on a horse owned by Bolesworth’s title sponsor Ashford Farm, had already won a six and seven-year-old class earlier on Saturday, which followed victories on Thursday and Friday.