Guy Williams and the speedy Skip Two Ramiro outpaced their rivals on the opening international day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, winning the Land Rover Stakes by 2.69sec from Mark Armstrong on Sefana. Third place went to Robert Whitaker and Lacroix, who were the winners of this class last year.
Williams, 36, is hoping that this success heralds an accident-free season after breaking his shoulder and wrenching an arm out of its socket when he had two falls on a single day in June last year at the South of England Show at Ardingly. The injuries meant that he missed the Hickstead Derby, leaving David McPherson to ride Skip Two Ramiro into third place.
Every show jumping rider would love to win the Derby, not least because it carries rich prizemoney with £40,000 going to Geoff Billington when he won it last year. Skip Two Ramiro has a consistent record in the class, so this could be the year for Williams to collect.
Yesterday's victory gave him a more modest prize of £1,350, which was not going to pay too many bills. He could, however, relish the warm sunshine at this show which has so often been dogged by wet weather. "This is an English show we can be proud of," Armstrong, who goes to Madrid next week, said of the going and general ambience. The 2009 European Championships for both show jumping and dressage will be held on the Windsor showground next year.
Royal Windsor Horse Show (Berks): Land Rover Stakes: 1 Skip Two Ramiro (G Williams) clear, 65.07sec; 2 Sefano (M Armstrong, GB) clear, 67.76; 3 Lacroix (R Whitaker, GB) clear, 69.59. International Welcome Stakes: 1 Royal Concorde (S Breen, Irl) clear, 37.28; 2 Angel (G Lovegrove, GB) clear, 37.53; 3 Otage (R Prater, GB) clear, 38.00. Thomas Bates 6 and 7-year-old Championship: 1 Maxim Trijol (D McPherson, GB) clear, 41.00sec; 2 Beowulf (W Funnell, GB) clear, 42.25; 3 Kalico Bay (T Stockdale, GB) clear, 42.50.