Equestrianism: Showtime is beaten for speed

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL WHITAKER and Nick Skelton filled the top two places in yesterday's Prix des Ecoliers at the Paris Horse Show, with John Whitaker finishing fifth in the opening competition of the meeting.

The contest was named after the schoolchildren who crowd into the stands here on the first day, cheering each horse at every fence. Their roars reached a deafening crescendo as Michael Whitaker flew round the turn to the final fence on Everest Uriel's Foal as though riding in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

That rousing performance put him ahead of Skelton, who had held a long lead on the eight-year-old bay mare, Showtime, who looked to have the makings of a top Grand Prix horse. Uriel's Foal, on the other hand, is a speed specialist who likes nothing better than to race against the clock. The 11-year-old won 15 international classes last year and has now had one triumph in each of his three shows this year.

John, the older Whitaker brother, was delighted with the eight-year-old mare, Catchphrase, who did all that was asked of her to take fifth place. But he had even greater satisfaction when jumping a slow clear round on Everest Milton, who was allowed to take his time.

Milton, now 17 years old and recently back in action after a long lay-off through injury, looked pleased to be back in the Omnisports Stadium at Bercy, soaring over fences in his own inimitable style. It looked to be a perfect warm-up for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier.

PARIS HORSE SHOW: Prix des Ecoliers: 1 Everest Uriel's Foal (M Whitaker, GB) clear, 41.60; 2 Everest Showtime (N Skelton, GB) clear, 43.08; 3 Loro Piana Special Envoy (R Pessoa, Bra) clear, 43.24; 4 Tunique d'Or (T Fuchs, Swit) clear, 44.09; 5: Everest Catchphrase (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 44.18.

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