Living legend John Whitaker landed the victory in the four star Grand Prix in Hagen on Sunday riding the 11 year old stallion Argento (Arko III x Gasper). The Grand Prix also served as the first leg of the DKB-Riders Tour 2013. It was a win that came by the closest of margins though, as John had Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum breathing down his neck only 0.1 seconds behind him in the second round. Thirteen riders moved forward from the first to the second round. Twelve of these were clear in the first round, and John’s son Robert Whitaker was the fastest four-faulter that got to join them in the chase against the clock in front of a record-crowd at this wonderful event.
The first round track in Hagen consisted of thirteen fences and sixteen jumps, and it was the white vertical at fence two that caused most head ache for the riders. In the second round the course was reduced down to seven fences and eight jumps with lots of stretches for some galloping. The fastest clear rider from the first round went last in the second.
John came in almost midway in the second round, and kept going forward on the impressive Argento around the track – not once pulling back. With a time of 38.50 seconds, the British veteran pushed then-leader and in-form Luciana Diniz down to second after she had produced a great second clear aboard the nine year old mare Fit For Fun (For Pleasure x Fabriano). After John it was time for Meredith, and aboard the well-named Unbelievable (Manhattan x Democraat) – which is exactly was this horse is – the German rider really tried to go for the win. Meredith almost made it – as she crossed the finish line the clock stopped at 38.60 seconds pushing into second ahead of Luciana. Just as last weekend in Paris, Unbelievable really impressed - this horse is one to watch! None of those to come could catch the top three; Switzerland’s Paul Estermann and Castlefield Eclipse (Obos Quality) had to settle for fifth after showing off some great jumping, and Mohammed Ghanem Al Hajiri slotted into fourth after two great rounds on Murtajiz Al Hawajer (Pilgrim x Capitol I).
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