Equestrianism: Whitakers show steel to take opening spoils in Sheffield

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The Independent Online

The Whitaker family grabbed the plum prizes in the first two contests of the British Open Show Jumping Championships here in Sheffield yesterday, with Ellen Whitaker's success in the Steel City Shield followed by a one-two for her uncle, John, and his son, Robert, in the Sheffield Masters.

John was riding the 14-year-old stallion Exploit du Roulard, who was able to win without being put under too much pressure.

"I saved time on my turns," 50-year-old Whitaker said, having achieved his aim of giving the stallion a stress-free start to the show as well as gaining victory. Robert Whitaker just failed to catch his father when he rode the skewbald Nureev to finish second, ahead of Helen Tredwell who had gained a last-minute entry to the show with the sensational little Opportunity B.

John Whitaker is looking forward to taking his new nine-year-old mount Peppermill, along with Exploit du Roulard, to the first two Super League shows of the year at La Baule in France and Aachen in Germany next month. "Peppermill looks very promising, he won the Grand Prix on the Spanish Sunshine tour," Whitaker said. "He'll take the pressure off Exploit, which will be a good thing." The younger horse could also be a prospect for this year's World Equestrian Games in Aachen.