Equestrianism: Whitaker sets show on fire in Pudding Stakes

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Robert Whitaker's attempt to repeat last year's achievement in becoming leading rider of the London International Horse Show at Olympia got off to a fine start yesterday when he won the KBIS Christmas Pudding Speed Stakes on Rusedski II.

"He's a naturally fast horse and he's always been a winner," the 25-year-old said. Whitaker defeated a brilliant round from Frenchman Phillippe Rozier on Ideal de Roy and another by his cousin Ellen Whitaker, who would have won but for incurring the 2sec penalty for one fence down on Kanselier.

Earlier Geoff Luckett underlined his reputation as one of the most tenacious riders in Britain when he rode Brickfield Boy, one of 18 horses in his Oxfordshire yard, to win yesterday's opening jumping class of the show.