Equestrianism: Gently does it for Whitaker
Friday 18 December 1998
Though Whitaker said that his winning round was "not break-neck stuff" it looked fairly spectacular to those watching another superb perfor- mance from the Yorkshireman. He was, he says, able "to take a bit of a pull" coming in to the last of the 10 fences, which was on an awkward turn and was the undoing of some of his opponents - notably Robert Smith, who was last to go on Senator for the Best.
Lesley McNaught, the British-born rider who represents Switzerland, had been first to go when she raced round on Bim II. She eventually stood second in the line-up, between Whitaker and his younger brother, Michael, on eight-year-old Hilton, with whom he was third in the World Cup qualifier at Millstreet in Ireland in October.
Grannusch, who won the first two legs of this year's Volvo World Cup final in Helsinki before dropping back to ninth place in the overall placings, has kept his form remarkably well with his advancing years. Whitaker, who has a reputation for keeping elderly horses in winning form, is well aware of the chestnut gelding's limitations.
"He's such a trier, I don't like stretching him to his limits," Whitaker said after yesterday's victory. "Sometimes I think Grannusch struggles over the bigger fences, so I'll probably ride Welham in the World Cup qualifier."
Welham is only a year young-er than Grannusch and Whitaker, who knows both horses so well, wonders whether his two veteran mounts might be a little bit too well aware of their rider's way of doing things. "It's like kids, they know me so well that they're aware of little things that they can get away with," he said.
The husband and wife partnership of show jumper William Funnell and three- day event rider, Pippa, repeated their success of two years ago when winning the earlier Petplan Family Pair Relay final. William, who was first to go on Comex, had told his wife to "go for it" on his nine-year-old show jumping horse, Henkie. Pippa duly obliged.
"I thought to hell with style," Pippa said, having emulated her husband by jumping a fast clear round. They were the only pair to finish without jumping penalties for victory over Paul Barker and his second cousin, Joanna Andrews, with John Whitaker and his 18-year-old daughter, Louise, in third place.
"We tried to do too much and we both had a silly fence down," Whitaker said. He and his daughter nevertheless did better than his brother, Michael, and son, Robert, who had been threatening the leaders until dropping the teddy bear that took the pace of a baton.
Michael should have retrieved the bear but his mount, Twostep, was sidling away from it. His nephew, Robert, therefore thought it would be quicker to dismount and pick it up himself, but unfortunately this apparently smart bit of thinking led to the pair's elimination.
Petplan, who sponsored both of yesterday afternoon's show jumping contests, have announced their support for the Blenheim International Horse Trials for the next three years. The first prize for the Oxfordshire event will therefore be increased to pounds 6,000 next year.
OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Petplan Stakes: 1 Virtual Village Grannusch (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 47.40sec; 2 Bim II (L McNaught, Swit) clear, 48.11; 3 Virtual Village Hilton (M Whitaker, GB ) clear, 48.59. Petplan Family Pair Relay Final: 1 Comex (W Funnell) and Henkie (P Funnell) clear, 70.17sec; 2 Kildalton Lad (P Barker) and Townhead Karibund (J Andrews) 4 faults, 72.30; 3 Virtual Village Heyman (J Whitaker) and Livingston II (L Whitaker) 8 faults, 76.28.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho's attempt to influence football's decision-makers is not working. In fact, it may have backfired
Piers Morgan 'hurt' after Arsenal legend Bob Wilson questions his support for the Gunners and labels him a 'pompous individual'
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...