German rider Nicola Pohl and the 12-year-old gelding Arlo De Blondel took advantage of their late draw to rocket to top spot in the CSI2* Hastens 1.40m two-phase on Friday (19 August), the opening day of the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT).
The pair came home nearly 3sec quicker than long-time leaders Nicole Lockhead-Anderson (Miss Aragona PS) with another British rider, Alicia Page, finishing third with Diacento.
The winning rider also finished fourth on her other ride, the 10-year-old Catz De Sulpice. However it was the French-bred Arlo De Blondel – a former ride of Jack Whitaker and Michael Whitaker, and Richard Howley most recently – with whom the 26-year-old found the winning formula in an action-packed 54-starter two-phase.
“I’m so happy, it’s an amazing location,” said Nicola, who last competed at the London LGCT four years ago. “Arlo gave everything – he loves the speed!
“I knew in the warm-up he felt good, and in the first phase too, then in the second phase I pushed him a bit quicker but he’s naturally very fast,” she added. “I don’t have to do much – he does his job every time.”
Arlo De Blondel jumped at the top level with Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker, and Michael’s son Jack won team silver at the 2018 junior European Championships with Arlo. Nicola only began competing him at the start of this year.
“He’s amazing. He’s fun to ride. A lot of people know him here in London – he seems quite famous in England! I think he’s happy to be home,” said Nicola, who is trained by leading German rider David Will and hopes to ride on more Nations Cup teams later this year.
“I saw Arlo at the end of last year in Portugal – he was with Richard Howley, but as he had a broken collarbone, Catherine Passmore was showing him there. I always watched him and I always liked him and I kept saying to Donald [Whitaker, Nicola’s boyfriend] how much I liked him, then I got to try him and I loved him.
“We won our first three-star grand prix together in Sharjah [in February]. He’s been produced so nicely by Richard, Jack and Michael and everyone!”
Nicola is based about one hour away from Frankfurt in Germany with her boyfriend, British rider Donald Whitaker, whose cousin George Whitaker won the previous CSI2* class at the London LGCT. Donald is also in action at the venue this weekend, the young Brit competing in the five-star classes.
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