John Whitaker and Echo of Light. Ph. Liverpool International
A pall was cast over the first day of competition at the new Liverpool International Horse Show CSI4* in the United Kingdom when Cameron Hanley’s horse Antello Z had to be put down following an injury (full story here.)
Amid the tragic news, competition carried on with four, CSI4* rated classes making for a very busy day. Emanuele Gaudiano and Cocoshynsky won the 1.45 metre two-phase class that Antello Z was injured in., Gaudiano completed a jump-off time of 29.25 seconds, which proved just enough to edge out 60-year-old multiple British Olympian John Whitaker and claim a £6,000 first prize.
Yorkshireman Whitaker, who has his sights on a possible sixth Olympic Games appearance in Rio later this year, clocked 29.42 seconds for the runners-up sport aboard Lord of Arabia, with Britain’s Nicole Pavitt taking third place on Victor Blue.
Gaudiano has enjoyed an outstanding few weeks on the European circuit, highlighted by him staving off a powerful British challenge to win the Longines FEI World Cup qualifier at London Olympia just 12 days ago.
“I have done a number of shows with the horse, and it is great to win here at Liverpool on the opening day,” Gaudiano said. “It is a super new show. It is the first show of the year, and it is an unbelievable event – one that will get bigger and bigger.”
Whitaker then delivered a first British four-star victory of the show by producing a brilliant performance on Echo of Light in the Equiline/Fearns Farm Partnership 1.40m accumulator. The accumulator, where riders score points for fences jumped – has a maximum 65 points available, including the invaluable joker fence, and Whitaker showed his rivals a clean pair of heels.
Drawn late in the 27-starter field, the 60-year-old Yorkshireman showcased all his experience to claim a maximum score in a blistering time of 43.82 seconds.
Belgium’s Wilm Vermeir was second – almost two seconds behind – on Hacienda d’Eversem, while William Whitaker finished third aboard his established campaigner Fandango.
Assessing his performance, John Whitaker said: “I was second-last to go, so I knew what I had to do.
“He has been a tricky horse to produce, but he has got loads of scope and he is careful.
“If you go really fast in a class like that, you are going to knock the planks down. It’s a fine line between going quickly enough and keeping your control to jump the last plank. Once I jumped one or two, he felt quite relaxed and I knew I was away, so I went for it.”
Johnny Pals of The Netherlands won the day’s 1.50m class, and Irish riders and horses claimed podium positions in the Puissance, with Peter Smyth and Cavalier Rusticana taking first place.
-Source: NoelleFloyd/Liverpool International
See full results of all classes at this link.