John Whitaker made a successful first appearance at this year's Royal International Horse Show yesterday when he rode Jolly Boy to win the West Sands Selsey Speed Challenge.
Whitaker still bore the mark of a nasty graze on the top of his nose, caused by a fall in Sweden last week which had left him "a bit dazed" but since then he has done little wrong.
Whitaker won the Falsterbo Grand Prix with Grannusch on Sunday, followed by the Cock o' the North Championship with Gammon at the Great Yorkshire Show on Thursday, before his success here. Louise Whitaker (John's 16- year-old daughter) was also victorious yesterday when winning the Young Riders Championship.
The Irish had held the top three places in the Speed Challenge, until John Whitaker pushed them all down a place.
Michel Robert gained his second victory of the meeting in the West Sands Holidays International Stakes, again riding the American-bred grey Airborne Montecillo. The Frenchman defeated Rob Hoekstra by almost 10 seconds.
Hoekstra's eight-year-old mount, Pebble Beach, is jumping at Hickstead for the first time - so a good clear round that was fast enough for second place was all the rider wanted. "I couldn't have gone faster than Michel even with fences down," Hoekstra said. He was also pleased to be ahead of John Whitaker, who was fifth after two jump-off errors on Grannusch, his mount in today's King George V Gold Cup.
Few riders were aware of a bomb scare here yesterday, which caused traffic chaos when one lane of the A23 was closed off for two hours. It was caused by a metal box (later found to have been stolen with its contents of brochures) which was spotted by Edward Bunn, the assistant show director, close to the showground's entrance.
ROYAL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW (Hickstead): West Sands Selsey Speed Challenge: 1 Jolly Boy (J Whitaker, GB) 62.93sec; 2 Huntingtown (C Swail, Irl) 65.05; 3 Convent Hill Diamond (R Splaine, Irl) 65.83. West Sands Holidays International Stakes: 1 Airborne Montecillo (M Robert, Fr) clear, 48.24sec; 2 Pebble Beach (R Hoekstra, GB) clear, 58.19; 3 VKS Hamlet (G Remmen, Nor) clear, 60.68. Equestrian Innovations National Young Riders Championship: 1 Cowboy Magic Deep Heat (L Whitaker) clear, 41.58sec; 2 Grey Sky (C Rossetti) 43.00; 3 Mattic (R Davenport) clear, 47.89.Reuse content