Equestrianism: Gem of India raises Whitaker's expectation

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The Independent Online

John Whitaker had a splendid warm-up for Aachen, where he competes in this week's Super League Show, when he rode Gem of India into second place in the Geesteren Grand Prix on Sunday. The dark bay stallion, who had already completed the first of his two double clear rounds at the Dutch show when he was third in a jump-off class on Friday, will be aimed at the major classes in Aachen. These include Friday's Nations Cup - in which Whitaker will team up with Robert Smith, Nick Skelton and Scott Smith - and Sunday's Grand Prix.

Whitaker has been short of the right horsepower in recent years, but the 10-year-old Gem of India is beginning to look distinctly useful. The grey stallion Irco Miro, another of his mounts for Aachen, has also been raising hopes.

Skelton and Robert Smith, recently named for Britain's two individual show jumping places at the Olympic Games, will be without Arko III and Mr Springfield - the two horses they are taking to Athens. They will nevertheless be competitive, with Skelton on the impressive nine-year-old grey stallion, Russel, and Smith riding the experienced Marius Claudius in the big classes. Both will be back on their Olympic mounts for next week's Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead and for the Dublin Super League Show a fortnight later.