Equestrianism: Midnight Madness for Whitaker

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EVEREST Midnight Madness will be Michael Whitaker's only Grade A mount for the British Nations Cup meeting, which begins today at Hickstead. The 11-year-old gelding normally produces his best form on the Sussex course, where he jumped two clear rounds in last year's Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix, writes Genevieve Murphy.

Whitaker will give the horse an outing today, before attempting a repeat victory in tomorrow's Grand Prix, which is worth pounds 12,000 to the winner. Midnight Madness will be available for Sunday's Nations Cup, and there is little doubt that Britain's team manager, Ronnie Massarella, will select him.

John Whitaker (Michael's elder brother) will not ride Everest Milton in the Nations Cup, but the fabulous grey may start in the Grand Prix if Whitaker feels that the 17-year-old has recovered his former zest when he rides him in an outside ring today.

The Whitaker brothers - Michael on Midnight Madness and John on Gammon - seem certain to be on the British team that attempts a third successive Nations Cup victory. The same applies to Nick Skelton on Limited Edition, which would leave either Kelly Brown or David Bowen (the other two members of the squad) to complete the quartet.