Equestrianism: Whitaker rejects Milton for final: Effort takes toll on grey

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITAKER yesterday decided not to ride Everest Milton in the Volvo World Cup final, which begins here today, after the grey gelding made a single error in an optional warm-up class.

'It's hard to explain, but he just doesn't feel right,' Whitaker said of the horse that he rode to victory in the finals of 1990 and 1991. 'He's 17 now and he needs to be feeling absolutely on top form if he's going to take on those courses, because they're bound to be big.'

Milton's owners, Tom and Doreen Bradley, have come here to watch their phenomenal horse who is the only showjumper to have won more than pounds 1m in prize-money. 'They told me to do what was right for Milton,' Whitaker said after talking to them yesterday.

Milton will probably jump in Sunday's Grand Prix. Whitaker will ride Grannusch in today's first leg of the World Cup and his new mount, Costa Classics, in tomorrow's second leg. 'If Costa goes well, I'll ride him in the third leg as well,' Whitaker said.

Milton, who was out for nearly 10 months after injuring himself last May, had appeared to make a wonderful comeback when contesting two World Cup qualifiers last month, finishing eighth in Dortmund and second in Paris. Whitaker now believes that the grey's great effort in Paris may have taken its toll.

Michael Whitaker now appears to have the strongest hand of the three Britons competing here. Nick Skelton, who completes the trio, had two fences down in yesterday's warm-up class on Everest Limited Edition, who needed the outing. The horse had not jumped a single round since Olympia last December.

INDOOR BRABANT PRIZE ('s Hertogenbosch; World Cup warm-up): 1 Visa Amadeus (P Raymakers, Neth) clear, 32.61sec; 2 Royal Bravour (P Geerink, Neth), clear, 35.95; 3 Genesis (G Lindemann, US) 3 faults, 39.87.