Equestranism: Whitaker keeps family business in healthy state

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The Independent Online

Robert Whitaker kept the family name in the limelight at the Horse of the Year Show despite the absence of his father and uncle, John and Michael, who have missed their home international in favour of a more lucrative fixture in Athens.

"It's a bit more peaceful without them," 24-year-old Robert said after winning the easibed Stakes in yesterday's opening international session. Whitaker's winning mount was Rudeski II, whose behaviour has greatly improved since he was gelded in January.

"You can take him to shows now," Whitaker said. "He used to be crazy; he'd kick the wagon to bits."

The horse is also "ultra careful and really fast". His opponents in Sunday's Zinc Management Speed Horse of the Year can take note that 10-year-old Rudeski usually wins if he jumps a clear round.

Yesterday, Whitaker overtook a fast clear round from the Irishman Billy Twomey, who had galloped into the lead on Whinny Jackson, defeating the eventual third-placed Ryan Prater, who had been first to tackle this two-phase course of power and speed on Vahagn de Lozana. Robert's cousin, 18-year-old William Whitaker, had looked set to chase the winning time until incurring a time fault over the "power" section which precluded him from tackling the "speed" fences on Kerball.

Both Whitakers had featured in the prize-giving after Robert finished second on Prima Vera in the earlier Grandstand Media Welcome Stakes, with William third on the grey mare Arielle. The class was won by Robert Bevis and the 11-year-old Irish-bred Wexford, who went one better than last year, when they had been runners-up.

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