British master John Whitaker produced a vintage performance that showcased his magic on a memorable Friday night at the Horse of the Year Show.
The 62-year-old won the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes on 15-year-old stallion Argento, claiming a victory that underlined his past experience as the jump-off riders were able to plot their own route in what they hoped would be the quickest time.
John clocked 29.07 seconds to take the top prize of £7,350, with Phillip Miller second aboard Roulette H, 42 hundredths of a second behind, and the Czech Republic’s Emma Augier De Moussac third on JCS Chacco.
“It took a bit of doing,” John said. “I worked it out in my mind, and I stuck to it and it paid off.
“It is always good to win. I still want to win and I still try to win. Argento is on good form, and he has been jumping really well for the past three months. I walked the course, and I thought it was quite good for me.”
John’s victory came only two months after he suffered a crashing fall on his 62nd birthday at the Global Champions Tour event in London, but he looked back to his best on an occasion when the crowd once again acclaimed his special talent.
“It wasn’t the best of birthdays, but that is part of the game,” he added. “If you worry about falling off, you are never going to win anything. You have got to go for it, that’s the nature of the sport.
“I am quite fit. I’ve had my injuries along the way and ups and downs, but I still enjoy it, I still get a kick out of it, and I can still do it.”
Pictures courtesy of 1st Class Images