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Spectacular Gala Evening !

Published: 11-Apr-2022

Robert Smith predicted he was odds on to win the Blue Chip grand prix – the highlight of Friday’s Gala night at the Blue Chip Winter Show Jumping Championships – and he duly followed up on his word with the scopey Ilton to scoop the top spot.

“I try to win them all! He won a good class in Peelbergen (The Netherlands) three weeks ago and when he’s on, he can win big classes,” said Robert.

Course-designer Nigel Jess set a testing 13-fence track with the 41 competitors faced with technical distance questions which came relentlessly quickly coupled with rollback turns and square oxers.

“It was a tough track but there were a lot of entries and the standard was high but he got the right result with six clears,” assessed Robert.

It was still all to play for and chances of the Andrews Bowen £1,000 bonus – on offer to the top three placed in Thursday night’s Blue Chip Pro Challenge Trophy who went on to win the grand prix – was still very much on with two lady riders in contention.

First in Nici came home on eight with Guaranteed Quality second time out but clever riding from Mennell Watson conjured up another clear out of the little stallion Whisper In The Wind, much to the appreciation of the audience.

Nonetheless, their time looked vulnerable and their lead was immediately curtailed by a determined Robert and the big-striding Ilton as they forged ahead with 2.64 sec in hand. Adrian Speight gave them a run for their money aboard Judith Whitham’s Millfield Baloney but despite a push to the final imposing Blue Chip oxer, they stopped the clock half a sec in arrears for second.

Yazmin Davis was not only out for the win but a £1,000 bonus contender with Zanbowa Z but a rail fell, putting paid to their chances and down to fourth. And when Thursday’s winner, last-to-go Holly Smith also faulted to finish fifth on KBS Major Player, the bonus money was saved for another year.

Robert had just missed out on a bonus chance with fourth place in the Pro Challenge trophy but was right on the money in the grand prix.

“I’ve had Ilton a long time now, he’s older, experienced and the course suited us even though he’s actually a better horse outside in big grass arenas,” said Robert, who selects the shows for the Dulf Van Den Bisschop 14-year-old with care and is possibly eyeing up the International meeting in Maubeuge, France, in the near future.


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