A clear and crazy-fast round was all Michael Whitaker had to produce to take the top prize in the $80,000 CANA Cup at Spruce Meadows on Thursday night -- and that was exactly what the British rider pulled off aboard Viking.
A deep field of world-class riders took to the International Ring, priming their mounts as they head towards the weekend that will showcase the BMO Nations Cup on Saturday (Bold, 4 p.m. ET, CBCSports.ca, CBC local at 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. AT) and the $1-million CN International Grand Prix on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3 p.m. ET).
It is only Day 2, but the competition has been fierce with the veteran riders, along with some young guns making their debut at the Masters, stepping up to the challenges that course designer Leopoldo Palacios continues to set before them.
Forty-three horses and riders took on Thursday's course; nine managed clear performances.
The leaderboard continued to change as each rider entered the ring under the famous clock tower to challenge the clock on the shortened course.
It all came down to the last rider, Whitaker, no stranger to Spruce Meadows or to the pressure of producing a clear and fast round. He cleared in 37.27 and rode away with the top prize of $26,400.
Second place was awarded to Germany's Christian Ahlmann and Taloubet Z, who had zero faults and stopped the clock in 37.62.
Third position went to France's Jerome Hurel and OHM De Ponthual with a clear round in 38.27.
Fourth went to Ireland's Shane Breen with his stallion Balloon (38.99).
Ian Millar of Perth, Ont., and his Olympic mount, Star Power, found their way into the jumpoff and the ribbon presentation for the second night in a row, finishing fifth in 39.49.
Ireland's Andrew Bourns and his horse Roundthorn Madios were clear in a time of 39.89, good for sixth.
The 1.60-metre jumper division at the Masters continues to impress, with riders setting their sites on the weekend competition that will mean big financial rewards if they can continue to keep their horses on pace and form.
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