Equestrianism: Fisher's speed denies Whitaker double

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The Independent Online
James Fisher employed some sharp turns and impressive acceleration on Renville at The Horse of the Year Show yesterday at Wembley Arena, when he thwarted a John Whitaker double to win the Fordyce Curry Wembley International Cup by 1.54sec.

Whitaker, who was second of six into the jump-off, produced a typically fluent, corner-cutting round on 18-year-old Virtual Village Grannusch and an afternoon double looked a distinct possibility.

But Fisher, who followed him into the ring, thought otherwise. He had won the Linz Grand Prix at the Austrian Nations Cup on Sunday with Renville, who spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday in his paddock, before coming here. The horse is jumping with ever-increasing assurance, as he showed when outpacing the speedy Grannusch yesterday.

Whitaker had won the earlier NSR Silver Bullet Salver on eight-year-old Virtual Village Heyman, who also covers the ground swiftly and could prove to be the future star of the Yorkshireman's yard.

The course for this speed contest was not demanding, but the Dutch-bred Heyman did all that was asked of him when finishing 0.75sec ahead of Norway's Geir Gulliksen on Alex H. Third place went to Andrew Davies on Into Favour.

John Whitaker has been relying on his old campaigners - 17-year-old Virtual Village Welham as well as Grannusch - for major contests in recent years. The rider is anxious to find some younger talent and he says that Heyman could be the answer.

HORSE OF THE YEAR SHOW (Wembley Arena): Fordyce Curry Wembley International Cup: 1 Renville (J Fisher, GB) clear, 29.77sec; 2 Virtual Village Grannusch (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 31.31; 3 Collezione Cesaro la Perla (R Eras, Neth) clear, 39.66. NSR Silver Bullet Salver: 1 Virtual Village Heyman (J Whitaker, GB) 48.11; 2 Alex H (G Gulliksen, Nor) 48.87; 3 Into Favour (A Davies, GB) 51.10. McCusker Show Hunter of the Year: Red Hand (G Landau); reserve: Jamaica Bay (R Oliver). T E Evans Children's Riding Pony of the Year: Ardenhall Royal Secret (C Dujardin); reserve: Bradmore Catkin (M Packham).