Equestrianism: Whitaker follows a family tradition

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LOUISE WHITAKER opened the account for her well-known family when winning yesterday's Young Riders Stakes during the opening session of the Horse of the Year Show. She was riding the little Russian-bred Perepliot whom her father, John Whitaker, had been trying to buy for a year before the Norwegian owner finally agreed to the sale four months ago.

Perepliot is only 15.1 hands high - "He's even too small for me," John Whitaker said - but he has the scope of a bigger horse. The nine-year- old found yesterday's course well within his compass when jumping clear to win by 2.15sec, defeating two other riders with Whitaker connections. Paul Barker, the runner-up on Kildalton Lad, had spent a year as John Whitaker's stable-jockey and Billy Twomey, a 19-year-old Irish rider from County Cork, is currently based with Michael Whitaker and is making quite a name for himself while riding the younger horses in his mentor's Nottinghamshire yard.

Perepliot's visit to Wembley was a brief one. Yesterday's contest was a qualifier for The Young Riders Championship of Great Britain in which 18-year-old Louise Whitaker had elected to ride the already qualified, and more experienced, Livingston II. Since riders were limited to one mount in the championship, little Perepliot went home again with an unblemished Wembley record.

Claudia Jordan took a bold short-cut on her pony, Classic Henna, to win the later Junior Foxhunter Championship by a handsome margin of 4.58sec. The 14-year-old rider, who fell off on her first visit to Wembley last year, had not planned the quick route when she rode into the arena. "I got a bit carried away and decided to do it at the last minute," she said.

The show, which is celebrating its golden jubilee, already has ticket sales in excess of 21,500 which was the attendance figure for the whole of last year's show. The organisers are expecting to top the 30,000 mark during the five days this year.

HORSE OF THE YEAR SHOW (Wembley Arena): Young Riders Stakes: 1 Perepliot (L Whitaker) clear, 51.06sec; 2 Kildalton Lad (P Barker) clear, 53.21; 3 Boherdeal Clover (B Twomey) clear, 54.90.

Squibb and Davies Junior Foxhunter Championship: 1 Classic Henna (C Jordan) clear, 31.46sec; 2 Gwaun Benjamin (L Riley) clear, 36.04; 3 CJS Kemosabi (V Jefferies) clear, 36.30.