Equestrianism: Triple for Whitaker

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITAKER proved the versatility of Henderson Gammon, with whom he won pounds 100,000 in last month's Calgary Grand Prix, when winning the DHL Puissance at the Horse of the Year Show here last night.

At 10ft 6in, the red wall was well below its record height for the second jump-off, but Gammon (the last of six to attempt it) was the only horse to leave it intact. The other five, among them Michael Whitaker's two mounts, Curtis and Alonso, shared second place.

This was John Whitaker's third victory of the show. He had won the earlier DHL London classic on Grannusch, who was the third of 17 horses into the jump-off. Having responded gamely to the attacking corner-cutting tactics of his rider, the rest of the field chased his time in vain.

Grannusch had won on Thursday, shortly after Geoff Billington was involved in a dead-heat on Corona, who again showed enormous potential by finishing runner-up.

James Fisher was last to go in the earlier Woodhouse Challenge, which he won by 1.35sec on the Argentinian-bred Monterrey.

Twelve months ago, after the last Wembley show, Monterrey cut a tendon and was out until April. He also had the whole of July off, having cut himself in his stable.

'He's not the most orthodox horse, but he's very fast across his fences,' Fisher said. 'If it's a speed class, I go into the arena thinking I can win.' Fisher put this power of positive thinking to good use in yesterday's contest which was decided on time in the opening round. He defeated two younger rivals - Mark McCourt on Rossport Aquila (the third last to go) and Paul Sutton on Wessex Fields of Athenry.

Despite his time off through injury, Monterrey has won nearly pounds 30,000 in the last 12 months, which has been an enormous help to Fisher as he struggles to keep his small team on the road. Yesterday's prize of pounds 1,000 left him some welcome change after paying stabling and entry fees amounting to pounds 600 for the two horses he is riding at Wembley.

Malcolm Pyrah rode the six- year-old mare Itziweeni to win the coveted Paul Fabrications Foxhunter Championship by a split second from Guy Goosen, 18, on Electrik II. Pyrah said he was under pressure ('I'd forgotten what that was like') before riding the small mare to victory.

HORSE OF THE YEAR SHOW (Wembley Arena): DHL London Classic: 1 Henderson Grannusch (J Whitaker) clear, 31.51sec; 2 Corona (G Billington) clear, 32.70; 3 Rock du Taillon (J Lessens, Bel) clear, 33.67. Woodhouse Challenge: 1 Monterrey (J Fisher) clear, 48.99; 2 Rossport Aquila (M McCourt) clear, 50.34; 3 Wessex Fields of Athenry (P Sutton) clear, 52.01. Spillers International Cup: 1 Faldo (P Murphy) clear, 22.89; 2 Genesis (T Cassan) clear, 24.10; 3 Everest Surething (M Edgar) clear, 24.26. Senator Junior Foxhunter Championship: 1 Dovecote Holly (A Cowan) clear, 28.75; 2 Village Cobbler (C Vinnicombe) clear, 29.35; 3 Frosty Mop (L Henderson) clear, 31.63. Paul Fabrications Foxhunter Championship: 1 Itziweeni (M Pyrah) clear, 35.10; 2 Electrik II (G Goosen) clear, 35.66; 3 JJ II (S Bowen) clear, 39.03. DHL Puissance 1 Henderson Gammon (J Whitaker) clear in second jump-off; 2= Henderson Curtis (M Whitaker), Everest Limited Edition (N Skelton), Everest Cloud Chase (G Luckett), Ever If Ever (J Turi), Henderson Alonso (M Whitaker). R M Clarke Show Hunter of Year: King's Warrior (R Oliver); reserve: Mere Luck (C Scott).

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