Equestrianism: Portofino's chance to jump into Olympic spotlight

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The Independent Online

Michael Whitaker is likely to be the only rider at the Royal Windsor Horse Show who is competing on a prospective Olympic mount. He will be on the 10-year-old mare Portofino, who will be having her first outdoor show of the season, with further outings planned this month in Hamburg and the Super League Show in Rome.

Michael Whitaker is likely to be the only rider at the Royal Windsor Horse Show who is competing on a prospective Olympic mount. He will be on the 10-year-old mare Portofino, who will be having her first outdoor show of the season, with further outings planned this month in Hamburg and the Super League Show in Rome.

Portofino could become Whitaker's main Olympic hope following the mixed results from Fleur at the La Baule Super League fixture last weekend.

Whitaker and two of his team-mates in La Baule, Robert Smith and Nick Skelton, were making frequent phone calls home from the French show in order to enquire about the weather. While the news was of rain - and remembering the mud-bath before the final day of the show was cancelled last year - they were preparing to give Windsor a miss.

Thanks to some dry days and an encouraging forecast, Whitaker decided on Tuesday that he would take Portofino and some of his younger horses to the Berkshire show, which begins this morning beneath the august backdrop of Windsor Castle.

Neither Skelton nor Smith intended taking their Olympic hopes, Arko III and Mr Springfield. Skelton will, however, be on the lovely nine-year-old grey, Russel, who is proving an excellent back-up to the year older Arko. Richard Davenport, who will join Whitaker, Skelton and Smith on the Rome Super League squad, is going by a different route. He rides his top horse, Luc, at Aachen in Germany this weekend before going to Eindhoven and then on to Rome.

The Duke of Edinburgh will again compete in Windsor's Land Rover Carriage Driving International. He will drive the Queen's team of four ponies in the dresssage phase today, followed by Saturday's marathon and Sunday's obstacle driving.

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