William Whitaker & Ben Maher make their presence felt in Miami

Friday 19 April 2019

It was a brilliant performance by William Whitaker with RMF Chacco Top, a 10 year-old chestnut stallion, that saw him claim victory in the 1.45m Table A CSI5* ranking class at the Miami leg of the Global Champions Tour earlier today.

With his foot on the accelerator from the start, their time of 54.24 seconds just couldn’t be touched resulting in Simon Delestre (FRA) with Filou Carlo Zimequest being relegated to 2nd place with their time of 54.79 seconds.  It was Daniel Deusser and Cornet that took 3rd and Shane Breen (IRE) with Colmar 4th with their times of 55.63 and 55.75 seconds respectively.

 This afternoon’s 1.50m CSI5* Jump Off class saw Ben Maher and Don Vito, an 11 year-old chestnut gelding owned by Poden Farms, just narrowly miss out on it being another GB win.

It was an eventual 2nd place finish for them when, having held the lead, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Cataleya 3, finished just ahead of them to take the title with Betram Allen (IRE) and Izzy by Picobello taking 3rd place.

Uliano Vezzani had set a technical 13-obstacle course, with a triple combination, a lofty NetJets vertical with a plank, and a full up 1.50m Longines vertical requiring absolute precision. The final line was extremely tricky, with a short four strides to the final fence - with light blue delicate poles falling at the lightest of touches. The longer striding horses required absolute control in-between the fences, with a water tray set just behind the fence at the penultimate obstacle drawing the horses and riders in.

It was the last fence that cost many their chance in the jump-off, the crowd groaning in sympathy with those unlucky enough to get caught out at the final moment. So it would be a 12 rider jump-off, with the promise of a thriller for the watching VIPs and fans.

First to go Denis Lynch (IRL) and Hector van d’Abdijhoeve returned to the arena, determination etched across the Irishman’s face. They shaved seconds off with some smart turns, including a daring chance inside the Miami Beach vertical, as Hector bucked across the finish line in celebration in 36.50s.

Peder Fredricson and Zacremento took the first on an angle, and kept the momentum going during an inside turn next to the Miami Beach vertical. They looked up on time, however Zacramento looked at the penultimate fence and backed off just a fraction, finishing in 36.56s.

The crowd groaned as Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados S’ luck ran out at the NetJets plank, ruling them out of a top spot. First of the Philippaerts twins Nicola and speed horse H&M Ikker covered the ground with their naturally large stride. But the back rail of the double came down, as did the Miami Beach vertical, and despite their fast time of 36.37s they would finish at the lower end of the grid.

Still on a high from their LGCT Grand Prix of Mexico City win Jérome Guery (BEL) and new mount Quel Homme  de Hus looked slower across the ground. It was close but not enough, the pair finishing in 37.24s. Bertram Allen (IRL) was hoping to give compatriot Lynch a run for his money with Izzy By Picobello. A tight turn after the Miami Beach vertical and a gallop to the last put them ahead, setting a new time to beat of 36.16s.

But the lead changed hands again after 2018 LGCT Champion Ben Maher and Don Vito made a smooth turn after the Longines oxer and a race to the finish to stop the clock in 35.63s.

Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and Cataleya 3 managed to somehow shave almost another full second off Ben’s time to stop the clock in 34.86s and put himself in pole position

For the full results, please click here.

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