Equestrianism: Whitaker able to grind out victory with Peppermill

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The Independent Online

John Whitaker brought yesterday's Super League Nations Cup to a thrilling conclusion here when he jumped Peppermill to the clear round that secured Britain victory over France by a narrow two-fault margin. The United States and the Netherlands were four faults further back in joint-third place.

Peppermill had a disappointing three fences down in the first round for the discard score of 12 faults. However, John Whitaker used his considerable skill to get the horse round the difficult course without error at the second attempt.

Britain had been lying second to France at half-time after five faults from Robert Smith on Marius Claudius, a clear round from William Funnell on Cortaflex Mondriaan and four faults from Michael Whitaker on Mozart des Hayettes. Funnell had the discount score of eight faults in the second round, but his team-mates improved - Smith with a clear round, Michael Whitaker with one fault and his brother John with that epic clear round.

Derek Ricketts, Britain's team manager, was naturally delighted but, with all four riders doing well, it will not make his choice of riders for next month's World Equestrian Games at Aachen in Germany any easier.

Daniel Neilson and Louise Saywell added to the British cheer by winning individual gold and bronze medals in the European Pony Championships at Saumur in France. Britons Gemma Paternoster and William Whitaker also won the young rider and junior titles earlier this month.

Royal International Horse Show (Hickstead, Sussex): Super League Nations Cup: 1 Great Britain 10 faults; 2 France 12; 3= US and Netherlands 16; 5 Ireland 17; 6 Sweden 21; 7 Germany 33; 8 Switzerland 66. GB scores: Marius Claudius (R Smith) 5,0; Cortaflex Mondriaan (W Funnell) 0,8; Mozart des Hayettes (M Whitaker) 4,1; Peppermill (J Whitaker) 12,0. Double clear: Icare du Manet (J Epaillard, Fr).

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