Davenport leads youthful charge

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The Independent Online

Britain won the team contest at the Young Riders' European Show Jumping Championships in Gijon, Spain, by the commanding margin of 12 faults, with 18-year-old James Davenport also taking the individual silver medal on Martin Dawes' Florie du Moulin. Both James and his elder brother, Richard, jumped double clear rounds but overran the time by a split second to incur one fault apiece.

Robert Whitaker had one error in the first round on Virtual Village Randi and was clear at the second attempt, thus contributing to Britain's excellent overall score of six faults which gave the British team a comfortable victory over Germany and the Netherlands. Nicky Boulter, brought in as a replacement when Louise Whitaker decided that Ephasia was not yet ready for the championships, had the discount scores of 8 and 20 faults.

Both Robert Whitaker and Davenport had been on the teams that won the Junior title in 1999 and 2000, so this was a hat-trick of championship victories for these two 18-year-olds. This year James joined his elder brother in the Netherlands, where they are both gaining invaluable experience on the Continental circuit from their base with the Dutch Olympic rider, Jan Tops.

Robert Whitaker, who will soon be moving to Nick Skelton's yard, would have been eligible for the juniors had he not accepted an invitation to ride in the Nations Cup at La Baule in May. He was therefore forced to move up to the young rider category. This was not a handicap for Whitaker, who still added to his gold medal collection, but it weakened the junior team who finished out of the medals.

Lee Williams, the individual junior champion last year and a member of the winning team in 1999 and 2000, was again best of the British when finishing in equal fourth on Granada.

YOUNG RIDERS' EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (Gijon, Sp): Teams: 1 Great Britain 6 faults; 2 Germany 18; 3 Netherlands 24; 4 France 34; 5 Italy 40; 6 Switzerland 51. GB scores: Florie du Moulin (J Davenport) 1 fault, 0 faults; Magna Carta II (N Boulter) 8, 20; Virtual Village Randi (R Whitaker) 4, 0; Grand Marnier (R Davenport) 0, 1. Individual: 1 Joel (G-J Bruggink, Neth) total of 12 faults; 2 Florie du Moulin (J Davenport, GB) 17.67; 3 Liberty 116 (S Kohrock, Ger) 19.44. Best of other GB: 6 Grand Marnier (R Davenport) 28.05. Junior teams: 1 Germany 24 faults; 2 Netherlands 32; 3 France 32; 4 Spain 34; 5 Great Britain 34; 6 Italy 40. Individual: 1 Flash de la Ramee (S Alvarez Moya, Sp) 4 faults; 2 Rodrigo 44 (F Hassmann, Ger) 8; 3 Aventurine (M Kearins, Irl) 8. Best GB: 4 Granada 232 (L Williams) 12.

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