Equestrianism: King Solier clearly the best for France in Masters
Sunday 21 December 2008
The valuable Renault Christmas Masters, contested by the most successful riders in qualifying events at the Olympia International Horse Show, resulted in an impressive French victory for Penelope Leprevost, 29, riding King Solier.
The seven starters included just two women, Leprevost and Ellen Whitaker on CS Online, but they saw off their male rivals in this jackpot event in which the fences were raised with every round jumped. Leprevost and Whitaker had both cleared every obstacle after four rounds when the Frenchman Kevin Staut refused with Pin Ball 4 and Britain's Geoff Luckett lowered a rail. Robert Whitaker withdrew his promising but inexperienced horse Udo DV after three perfect rounds and the Belgian Philippe Le Jeune faulted after two clears.
In the final timed jump-off, thein-form Whitaker, going first, went for a fast clear, with the £14,000 winner-takes-all prize a huge incentive. But CS Online, tiring a little, hit two jumps, leaving Leprevost with the easy decision to take her time for a clear round, which she achieved convincingly. King Solier jumped better with every round, to give the Frenchfemale champion rider her second victory at Olympia this week.
This was the first Masters class contested by this mother of a four-year-old daughter. Based in Normandy with Michel Robert, she rides Jubilee d'Ouilly in today's FEI Rolex World Cup Qualifier.
Earlier, in the Speed Stakes, William Whitaker, 19, glided smoothly around the twisty circuit on It's Super Girl to an easy victory. The mare never looked like lowering a pole, effortlessly outspeeding Laura Renwick and Beluga II, who were drawn last but failed to catch the winner by 1.56sec. Ben Maher, the best of Britain's Olympic riders in Hong Kong, finished third on Ornike.
William's uncle John gave Lactic a positive, confidence-restoring ride into sixth place after the grey had refused in the first jump-off of the Puissance the previous evening, won jointly by Ellen Whitaker, his niece, and William.
Ellen, the first female rider to win a Puissance here in 20 years, is well placed to win the H&M Leading Rider of the Show award, although she may miss the World Cup Qualifierthrough lack of a suitable horse. But her cousin William will be trying to win it on Animation.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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