Birmingham success for Williams

  • Last Updated: October 4 2012, 23:30 BST

British rider Guy Williams won Thursday's opening international class at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham.

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Williams, who missed out on a place in Britain's Olympic showjumping team for London 2012, claimed an emphatic victory in the Grandstand Welcome Stakes speed class.

Kent-based Williams, riding Larino, posted a time of 58.87 seconds to land the top prize of just under £1,000.

Irish Olympic rider Billy Twomey finished second aboard Molly Malone V on 59.97, and Holland's Leon Thijssen took third with Quintera, more than a second behind Twomey.

"That is a good start to the week," Williams said. "I've had the horse a few months and that is the first class we have won. He was very good."

There was a second British winner in the Xerox Special Event Services Cup when Will Funnell clinched a thrilling success on Billy Angelo that saw him collect just under £1500.

Ellen Whitaker looked as though she had done enough to successfully retain her title after leading the two-phase class until late on.

Tim Davies and Valentijn O then clipped two hundredths of a second off Whitaker's time of 26.10 with Royal Rose, before Funnell delivered a brilliant clear round in 25.48.

But Funnell could not relax as 17-year-old Hertfordshire prospect Chloe Aston threatened his time with Chateau de Brion Quainton, clocking 25.72 for second spot.

Whitaker had to be content with fourth place in the end, but it was an encouraging result for her as she continues on the comeback trail.

She recently began the process of setting up her own yard, and after dropping outside the top 25 on British Showjumping's official ranking list, 26-year-old Whitaker is showing signs of stringing together some consistent results.

"There has been quite a lot of rebuilding for me this year," she said.

"I have left home and set up on my own, but now it is starting to come together.

"I don't know where I will be on the next rankings list, so the main thing at the moment is climbing back up that list."

Funnell increased his day's winnings to almost £3,000 by landing the Horse & Hound Senior Foxhunter Championship on Billy Balou for a record third time in his career.

Just four combinations from a 23-strong start list made the jump-off, with Funnell last to go.

And he comfortably went inside the the time of 41.91 seconds set by Sam Hutton and Hello Annie, while Welsh challenger Gemma Plumley - daughter of 1976 Olympian Debbie Johnsey - finished third aboard T J Kobie.

A busy opening day concluded with the Sky Sports Trophy speed class, which went to Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash.

The 26-year-old Scotsman was a member of Great Britain's Olympic title-winning team at Greenwich Park eight weeks ago alongside Nick Skelton, Ben Maher and Peter Charles.

And he launched his Horse of the Year Show campaign in fine style, taking the £6,600 top prize on Bon Ami.

Their time of 59.56 seconds ensured a comfortable success from Holland's Albert Zoer and Sam, with Belgian Nicola Philippaerts third on Stal De Kalvarie.

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