Robert Whitaker and Catwalk IV won the Bahrain Speed Stakes. Ph. RWHS
Guy Williams, renowned for being quick against the clock, set the early pace as third to go in the first International 4* competition of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Great Britain, the Manama Speed Stakes, with an immaculate clear in a time of 26.94 seconds.
Those that followed tried in vain to catch Williams at the top of the order, who went away eventual winner aboard the fourteen-year-old chestnut gelding Casper De Muze (Triomphe De Muze x Corsaire De Vauban). The penultimate rider, USA’s Laura Kraut looked to put his lead in jeopardy, making all the turns and galloping to the last aboard Andretti S, creating excitement amongst the packed grandstand, however her time of 27.23 was only good enough for 2nd place. In 3rd was Joe Davison, son of former Royal Windsor Horse Show Dressage winner Richard Davison, who jumped the two phase track clear in 27.79 with Vennot.
The feature event of the day, the Bahrain Pearl Stakes, saw a global field of 35 world class riders contesting the £7,500 first prize, reflecting the upgraded status of the show to 4* level. Great Britain’s Tim Stockdale was the first to jump clear in the 17 horse jump-off, setting a time of 41.06, however it was double Olympic gold medallist Beezie Madden who threw down the gauntlet, knocking over five seconds off Tim’s time, stopping the clock in an impressive 36 seconds.
The twisty course caused a few problems for those trying to chase the leaders, but home favourite John Whitaker pulled out all the stops, jumping clear in 33.62 aboard the stunning stallion Argento to take the lead much to the delight of the Windsor crowd.
However, when it looked like Whitaker had the class wrapped up, it was his son Robert, riding Catwalk IV, who had the final say, posting an impressive clear in 32.44 to take the well-deserved victory, with John settling behind his son in 2nd place.
Kent Farrington and Aron S placed 3rd, with Madden coming in 4th aboard Quister.