Calvaro's success an Olympic boost for Whitaker

John Whitaker's partnership with Calvaro seemed to be growing more effective than ever yesterday, when he rode the big stallion to win the West Sands Selsey British Grand Prix at the Traxdata Royal International Horse Show here. Whitaker won the same class last year with the veteran Welham, but this success was of greater significance since he borrowed Calvaro from his brother, Michael, with the Olympics in mind.

John Whitaker's partnership with Calvaro seemed to be growing more effective than ever yesterday, when he rode the big stallion to win the West Sands Selsey British Grand Prix at the Traxdata Royal International Horse Show here. Whitaker won the same class last year with the veteran Welham, but this success was of greater significance since he borrowed Calvaro from his brother, Michael, with the Olympics in mind.

Calvaro made a single jump-off error when he hit the penultimate Derby Rails ("I think I pushed him a bit too much there") but none of the six contenders jumped clear and Whitaker was the fastest of the four-faulters. "It's nice to have a clear round, but a win's a win," Whitaker said.

The runner-up was the Saudi Arabian Khaled Al Eid, who is no stranger to the British scene having spent a year at John Whitaker's yard in 1992. He had walked the course with his former Yorkshire mentor before jumping a polished clear opening round on Kashn Aan Eastern Knight.

The Saudi Arabians, now based in Belgium, where they are trained by Nelson Pessoa, are becoming serious contenders on the international show jumping circuit. They have been represented by individual competitors in the past; this year they have a full team which will be contesting its third Nations Cup contest today.

Britain's Rob Hoekstra riding Lionel II, who won the British Jumping Derby here last year, finished a split second behind Al Eid in third place. Di Lampard and Abbervail Dream, who are under close scrutiny from the selectors after the rider's enforced lay-off with a thigh injury, had a single error in the opening round to be equal eighth.

Geoff Billington, who is also under scrutiny with Virtual Village It's Otto, will be first to go for the British team in today's Nations Cup. He will be followed by Lampard on Abbervail Dream, Andrew Davies on Captain Wellington and John Whitaker on Calvaro.

The Irish team has been weakened by the withdrawal of Peter Charles, their former European champion. Traxdata Amber du Montois, his intended mount, is lame and Cameron Hanley, who is based with Charles, has been drafted in to join Captain Gerry Flynn, Cian O'Connor and Kevin Babington.

Comments