Equestrianism: Whitaker defeats Lampard to secure sixth win

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITAKER secured his sixth victory of this year's Olympia Show Jumping Championships in yesterday's Eurosport Christmas Hamper, defeating Di Lampard (who was also runner-up in Sunday's winner-takes- all Kickon Masters) by 0.47sec, with Italy's Arnaldo Bologni finishing third.

Being beaten by Whitaker and the Hungarian-bred stallion Virtual Village Randi was an experience that Lampard, who was on the French-bred mare, Equity, shared with others this year, the grey having carried the Yorkshireman to five wins.

Having overtaken Lampard yesterday, Whitaker had to survive a determined challenge from Tim Stockdale on Traxdata Glenwood Springs before his latest first prize was in safe keeping. Stockdale, though quicker, dislodged a pole from the final fence.

Randi had been saved for Olympia. Whitaker's 16-year-old son, Robert "kept him sweet" by riding him in some smaller classes but John had not ridden him since competing at Monterrey in Mexico in October. The stallion has been known to stop after taking tight turns, but apparently this only happens on the left rein. "Randi never stops on a right turn, so that's when I have to take all the risks. I have to outsmart him a bit," John Whitaker said of the stallion who is becoming increasingly hard to beat in speed classes.

Visiting riders dominated the earlier Perton Signs Christmas Eve Six Bar with two Germans, the former world champion Franke Sloothaak and the Olympic champion Ulrich Kirchhoff, sharing first place after jumping five clear rounds apiece.

Kirchhoff, riding seven-year-old Damhus los del Rio, looked to have the top prize to himself when Sloothaak's mount, Gio Granno, dislodged a rail from the last obstacle in a line of four fences. Sloothaak thought so himself, until he realised that the horse had somehow nudged off a lower rail which did not count against him.

This was the first international win for both German horses. Sloothaak's mount, the nine-year-old stallion, Gio Granno, looked to be in accord with his rider after an acquaintance of only two months.

The rider is not, however, tempted to hail the horse as a potential star until he has proved himself. "He has a lot of ability, but he needs more experience," Sloothaak said of Gio Granno. "We'll give him a chance and see how far we get."

Results, Digest, page 23