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A win for Michael Whitaker in the Global Champions Tour opening in Madrid

Saturday, 04 May 2013

The winner; Michael Whitaker on Viking. Photo by Stefano Grasso/Longines Global Champions Tour.It was British veteran Michael Whitaker that ended up on top in the Global Champions Tour opening in Madrid on Saturday. After three exciting rounds, the British veteran was the only rider left on a zero penalty score – after producing one great round after another on a very well jumping Viking. Both runner-up Laura Kraut and third placed Alvaro de Miranda had faster rounds than Michael in the jump-off, but on the expense of a rail down each. It was a jump-off with some strong names in it – the top three were joined by Denis Lynch, Harrie Smolders, Luciana Diniz, Richard Spooner and Pius Schwizer who also produced clears in both the first and the second round.

It all opened quietly in the first round as all the first 25 riders had penalties; although Athina de Miranda and Kamal Bahamdan only had penalties for going over the time allowed. Alvaro de Miranda was the rider who produced the first clear over the first thirteen fence track aboard AD Rahmannshof's Bogeno before Italy's Emanuele Guadiano was clear aboard Cocoshynsky five riders later. Then it was time for Michael who jumped a superb clear on his chestnut gelding, and then followed Pius Schwizer on Powerplay and Penelope Leprevost on Topinambour – making it four clears in a row. Another five riders produced clears over the track – which was tricky enough, especially with the line from the combination at 4a and b to the water which was followed by an oxer an then four short or three long strides to a plank.

The second round was reduced down to ten fences, which included a triple combination at 6a, b and c and a combination at 9a and b. This time around, eight of the eighteen riders remained clear to move on to the jump-off. Richard Spooner and Cristallo were first up in the jump-off, but unfortunately this super pair had a rail down. Both Pius and Denis shared Spooner’s faith – as did Harrie on Exquis Walnut de Muze.

Michael was next in the lovely grass ring under the evening sun in Madrid, and in front of a full crowd he pulled out yet another clear round of the bag to finish at a time of 49.53 seconds. Michael took the lead – and stayed there until the end of the class, as all those after him failed in their attempts to catch him. Doda, Luciana and Laura all had a rail down a piece and the first GCT victory of the season belonged to Michael and Viking!

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