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John Whitaker wins the Grand Prix in Amsterdam on Argento

Sunday, 26 January 2014

They were flying today; John Whitaker and Argento won the Grand Prix in Amsterdam. Photos by Jenny Abrahamsson.John Whitaker made it his second big win for the weekend, when he went all the way to the top in the Anemone Horse Trucks Grand Prix of Amsterdam on Sunday. Riding the powerful eleven year old stallion Argento (Arko Iii x Gasper) – also John’s partner when he won the 1.50 class on Friday – the British living legend rode a tremendous double clear to take home the win in front of a great Dutch crowd. It was an extremely exciting class, that saw home rider Gert Jan Bruggink performing on his very best to take home second on Primeval Dejavu (Heartbreaker x Ramiro) – while Ireland’s 24 year old Alex Duffy did two amazingly impressive rounds to end third on Living The Dream (Toulon x Flamenco Desemilly).

Thirteen riders made it to the jump-off, after producing clear rounds over Louis Konickx tricky track that consisted of thirteen fences that included a triple combination at 6abc (oxer-vertical-oxer) – and then a vertical-vertical combination at 10a and b. Faults spread out, but many had to see a pole or two fall in the triple combination. The jump-off was reduced to eight fences that included a combination, and featured the possibilities for some tight turns followed by stretches to gallop.

The best home rider: Gert Jan Bruggink on Primeval Dejavu ended second.The first clear in the jump-off came from the rider that opened the competition; Alex Duffy on Living The Dream. The Irish rider had produced a beautiful first round, and yet again did a superb performance on the nine year old gelding to go clear and put pressure on those to come with a time of 39.58 seconds. John’s son Robert was the second rider in the ring on Catwalk IV (Colman x Corleone), but unfortunately he had the b-element in the combination down. Anne Sophie Godart followed, but had four down this time around – while Jos Lansink did yet another flawless performance at 39.83 seconds to slot in behind Duffy. The next two riders – Gudrun Pattet and Jeroen Dubbeldam, one of five home riders in the jump-off – both had fences down, before Katharina Offel did a great clear on the super bouncy B Once Z (Baloubet du Rouet x Lavaletto) to slot into third.

Then it was time for John Whitaker. Ice cold as always, John went into the ring – and with a super turn back to the combination midway around and then a great gallop on the line from the triple to the following vertical followed by another tight turn to the penultimate vertical and seven strides to the last oxer – John took the lead on 38.69 seconds, shaving off 0.89 on Duffy’s time. It looked hard to beat indeed!

Third placed Alex Duffy rode two breathtaking rounds on Living The Dream.Two home riders followed, and the first – Wout-Jan van der Schans had one down while Gert Jan Bruggink gave the home crowds value for their ticket money when he raced around the track taking out one stride to do six on the final line – slotting in right behind John on 0.30 leaving the ring a very happy man. Leopold van Asten really gave it a try on the fantastic VDL Groep Zidane (Heartbreaker x Calando I) and had the fastest round of the day at 37.14 seconds, but on the expense of having the final oxer down. The last two riders could not do anything about the top four – John, Gert Jan, Alex and Jos – but Gregory Wathelet and the lovely Sea Coast Forlap DC (Querlybet Hero x Heartbreaker) slotted into fifth ahead of Katharina Offel.

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