Equestrianism: Grannusch sets up Whitaker for clean sweep

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The Independent Online
John Whitaker and 18-year-old Virtual Village Grannusch gave a sprightly and invincible performance for the second day running yesterday, when winning the Daewoo Grand Prix Qualifier at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show.

Whitaker had looked like filling the top two places, for he was fast and clear with his second mount, Randi, until overplaying his renowned ability to shave corners to the bone. This time he was a little too audacious when turning into the final double and the stallion slithered to a halt among falling poles.

John Popely therefore finished second - ahead of Guy Goosen on Tinto, who has just returned to competition after a six-month lay-off with leg problems.

It has already been a good week for the Whitakers, with John's 17-year- old daughter, Louise, winning the National Ladies' Championship at the Royal Lancashire Show. The father could well make a clean sweep of the major prizes here, since he intends to ride the Aachen Grand Prix winner, Virtual Village Welham, in today's Dibden Ford International Championship Team Trial.

Tim Stockdale won yesterday's earlier contest, the Wightlink Seven Fence Challenge, on Toggi Halida who was bought for his Greek pupil, Alexandros Georgiou, to ride. Due to the inexperience of both the 18-year-old jockey and the eight-year-old mare, the pair ran into problems before Stockdale took over the ride about four months ago.

As the name suggests, the contest was run over a course of seven obstacles. These were raised for each jump-off, with Halida eventually erring at the third fence of the fourth round. Stockdale nevertheless won when his only remaining rival, John Renwick on Millbrook, clobbered the first. Halida has now won five competitions with Stockdale in the last three weeks.

NEW FOREST AND HAMPSHIRE COUNTY SHOW (Brockenhurst): Daewoo Grand Prix Qualifier: Virtual Village Grannusch (J Whitaker) clear, 44.92sec; 2 Sight and Sound Bluebird (J Popely) clear, 46.59; 3 Tinto (G Goosen) clear, 50.35. Wightlink Seven Fence Challenge: 1 Halida (T Stockdale); 2 Millbrook (J Renwick); 3 Townhead Robbo (A Bell), Tristar (D Lampard) and El Beaujoulais (A Davies).

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