Great Britain’s John Whitaker won the opening class CSI5* class in Rome with his 10 year old grey stallion Castlefield Cristobal 21 after an eventful competition which saw the world’s best riders battling it out in all conditions. Jane Richard Philips (SUI) took a strong second place with Pablo de Virton, and young star and home favourite Emanuele Bianchi (ITA) brought home third with his 11 year old grey mare Zycalin W to the delight of the local fans.
57 world class combinations took to the purpose built sand arena for the 1,45m CSI5* class, watched over by the 59 statues that line the iconic Stadio de Marmi. With many of the riders bringing their best horses ahead of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Rome, the two phase competition saw high level action with an unexpected downpour of rain in the middle of the class.
The course was fair and testing, with John one of the early riders to throw down the gauntlet. Making up his time during the second half of the course, he moved the pace up a gear to come home in 30.84s. Jane Richard Philips was close behind in 31.54s and Emanuele Bianchi finished the top three just fractions of a second behind in 31.64s.
Speaking about his win and where he believed he made up the time, John said: “I think I was quick to the first jump-off fence and kept going. Castlefield Cristobal 21 was fresh, and he’s on good form. He’s got potential, he’s 10 but he hasn’t had much experience, so hopefully he’ll do some Grand Prix next year.
“It’s a fantastic setting here in Rome and a beautiful arena. It looks good and I’m very much looking forward to the Grand Prix tomorrow.”