EQUESTRIANISM / Everest Milton to make last bow

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The Independent Online
Stand by for some emotion when Everest Milton parades during each session of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships, which begin today in London. According to his sponsors, the great horse "will not be seen competitively in an international arena again."

Doreen Bradley (who owns Milton jointly with her husband, Tom) is not quite so sure. "We wouldn't want to take any risks; he'd only jump if John felt he was right," she said. The implied deference to her horse's regular partner, John Whitaker, must mean that the grey superstar's competitive days are indeed over. Whitaker is known to favour retirement for the 17-year-old gelding.

There are no plans for a full-blown retirement ceremony at Olympia, which is a shame. Milton, the only show jumper to have won more than £1m, deserves to bow out on an irresistible flood of emotion. Would there be a dry eye in the house if his saddle were removed in the arena before he was led away?

None of the horses competing at the London show will float over fences in the way that Milton once did. But there will nevertheless be some great show jumpers in action when 16 home riders and 22 from overseas compete for total prizemoney of £210,600.

The visitors include the Olympic champion, Ludger Beerbaum, and two of his fellow members of the German team that won the world title: Dirk Hafemeister and Soeren von Ronne. Jos Lansink, winner of this year's Volvo World Cup final, is among the Dutch.

The Whitaker brothers and Nik Skelton will, as always, be the principal home contenders, but James Fisher could also give the visitors trouble.

Two riders, Alison Bradley and Di Lampard, were nominated for places at Olympia by the British selectors. Bradley, now based with Nick Skelton, rides Endeavour. Lampard will be on the brilliant seven-year-old, Abbervail Dream.

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