Equestrianism: Whitaker last but not least

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The Independent Online

Michael Whitaker will be riding his Windsor Grand Prix winner, Amai, when he goes last for the British team in today’s Samsung Super League Nations Cup.  Derek Rickett, who named the team yesterday on the opening international day of the Royal International Horse Show, has chosen Geoff Luckett to go first (with Britain having been drawn in the opening slot, he will be first in the entire competition). Charlotte Platt, a 22-year-old newcomer to the Super League, will go next for Britain, followed by Duncan Inglis.

Although a cloud is hanging over Whitaker’s intended Olympic mount, Portofino, the mare will go into quarantine as planned tomorrow.  Her resent lack of form in Spain and Portugal must, however, leave a question mark over her participation in Hong Kong. “We’ll be able to jump her in quarantine, so we’ll have a chance to see whether she’s back on form,” Ricketts said yesterday.

Three reserve horses - Russel (the mount of Nick Skelton), Murkas Rubert (Peter Charles) and Omelli (Tim Gredley) - will also go into quarantine at Towerlands Equestrian Centre in Essex.

Guy Williams - who would have loved to have been on the British team today but was overlooked when the squad was chosen - had some compensation when he won yesterday’s Bunn Leisure International Trophy on Skip Two Ramiro, who is suited to big arenas and has a consistent record here. Williams defeated US rider Lauren Hough on Casadora by a 2.29sec margin.

Gary Parsonage repeated his 1999 victory in the Ford Ranger Eventing Grand Prix when he took an early lead on Peter Street in a time that his rivals tried – and failed – to catch.  In the process he may have found a new career for the former event horse, who turned to pure show jumping two years ago.

Yesterday’s course (a mixture of show jumping and cross-country fences) clearly suited the horse.  Parsonage is now thinking of bringing him back here next year for June’s show jumping Speed Derby which includes some of the same fences .    


Royal International Horse Show (Hickstead, Sussex): Bunn Leisure International Trophy: 1. Skip Two Ramiro (G Williams, GB) clear, 43.51; 2. Casadora (L Hough, US) clear, 45.18; 3. Sherlock (P Spits,\Bel); clear, 45.80. 

Ford Ranger Eventing Grand Prix: 1. Peter Street (G Parsonage, GB)  205.20sec; 2. Kellymoss (E Chandler, GB) 207.47; 3. Caunton Welldone (M Wright, GB) 212.43.