Equestrianism: Weinberg cements dominance with set of five clear rounds

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The Independent Online

Helena Weinberg struck another blow for the small band of successful women riders during yesterday's closing day of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships, when she completed five clear rounds on Silwa Little Gun to win the Christmas Eve Six Bar. On Sunday, she had triumphed with Kasting Horses Gavi in a thrilling jump-off for the Sony Ericsson World Cup Qualifier, the major contest of the five-day show.

Yesterday's contest began over a course of six fences, increased in height and reduced in number for the four successive rounds. "It's a good contest for grand prix horses, because it keeps them jumping," Weinberg said, after her grey mount became the only horse to jump clear each time. Second place was shared by Albert Zoer, of the Netherlands, on Lincoln and the Swedish woman Maria Gretzer on Spender S.

Weinberg believes that her marriage to Peter Weinberg in 1986 - and her subsequent switch from British to German nationality a year later - provided her with opportunities that would never have been available to her in England. "It's easier to find good horses in Germany and my husband is a genius at picking the right ones," she said.

Although she celebrates her 40th birthday on Christmas Eve, Weinberg is nevertheless still waiting to be chosen for her first championship team. But with her current trio of grand prix horses - "I've never had three of this calibre before," she said, referring to Gavi, Little Gun and Ramonus - the German selectors must already have her under serious consideration for next year's Olympic Games. Yesterday's winner, Little Gun, is not, however, likely to figure in their calculations since he tends to be spooky when confronted with water or ditches.

Weinberg says that her parents, Bruce and Sonja Dickinson, have also made a major contribution to her success by moving to Germany and therefore being on hand to look after her two children while she was show jumping. This, she insists, is one of the main reasons why she has remained successful.

Though she no longer rides for her native country, Weinberg could well be helping the future of British show jumping by providing a German base and training for John Whitaker's 20-year-old son, Robert. "He's been with us since September, but he's back home now getting ready for his 21st birthday in January," Weinberg said. "Robert has a lot of talent and he may join us again, he knows that we'll always have a bed and a few stables for him."

Otto Becker won the later Champagne Taittinger Farewell Speed Stakes on Filias, depriving Tim Stockdale of a third victory with Fresh Direct Glenwood Springs when overtaking him by just 0.37sec. Robert Whitaker was also within a second of the German victor when finishing third on Karina.