Michael Whitaker delivered a performance of class and panache to give a bumper crowd British success as day two of the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show ended in thrilling fashion.
Michael, winner of numerous major championship medals and part of the Great Britain team at last summer's Rio Olympics, stormed to victory in the 1.50m jump-off class, sponsored by Outlanda, at the Echo Arena.
It was a masterful display by the Nottinghamshire-based rider on JB's Hot Stuff (Locarno 62 x Cavalier Royale), as he clocked 33.56 seconds to leave all rivals in his slipstream.
Robert Smith and Ilton (Dulf Van Den Bisschop x Calvaro) went close, finishing on 34.21 seconds, with Italian challenger Emanuele Gaudiano third on Chalou (Chacco Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet) and Louise Saywell taking fourth aboard Cordalis 7 (Casado x Landlord).
Reflecting on his victory, Michael said: "She jumped really good, and it all felt very comfortable for her. She did everything I asked, and she did it very well. There were no hassles - she was really on form.
"She did the business. The way she jumped in the first round, I thought we must be in with a shout. I put my foot down in the jump-off and took a few chances, and she really responded. She is a quick horse. She won a grand prix ay Keysoe a couple of weeks ago, and I never got her out of a canter, really. She is quick across the ground."
"It was consistent all the way round, I just wanted to get a couple of key turns right in the jump-off, including the turn back to number nine, which I think I did," Whitaker continued.
"It is nice to win one. I have had a lean couple of weeks, but that was a real competitive jump-off, and I am delighted with the result."
Earlier in the day, Germany's Felix Hassmann became a two-time winner at the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show when he won the thrilling Sunday afternoon speed class. The competition, sponsored by Country Frog, provided thrilling entertainment as Felix held off a world-class field to triumph with SL Brazonado ( Sl Baluarte x Silvestre) following a blistering exhibition of riding at pace under pressure.
"It is a fantastic win, my horse jumped superbly today. There were so many quick riders in the class, but I know my horse. He is very, very fast with his canter. Last year he won around 10 world ranking classes, and I am so happy to have won here at Liverpool," said Hassmann.
Source and picture: Press release from Liverpool International Horse Show
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