The new partnership of John Whitaker and Mary McCann's wonderful grey stallion, Cruising, will be in action at the Royal Windsor Horse Show which begins its five-day run today.
Last year Cruising won the Aachen Grand Prix and was runner-up in the World Cup final when ridden by the Irishman, Trevor Coyle. This partnership ended last August after a disagreement between the owner and rider during the European Championships at Hickstead. Cruising then had a stint with Eddie Macken before the ride was offered to Whitaker. As with most new partnerships there have been some ups and downs, the latter including elimination in the Mauberge Grand Prix in France nine days ago. "I hadn't intended to ride him in the Grand Prix, but he'd been going so well on the first two days of the show that I changed my mind," Whitaker said.
However, he was "not too worried" when the stallion ran out once and then stopped again after being turned back quickly to the same fence. Cruising jumped well at the Newark and Nottinghamshire County Show last weekend with two clear rounds on the first day, followed by a clear and three faults at the last fence in the second day's big contest, the Mattie Brown Stakes.
Whitaker plans to ride Cruising in a small contest tomorrow and, all being well, in the Gentlemen's Jumping Championship on Friday and the Asprey & Garrard Grand Prix on Sunday.
Robert Smith will also have an exciting new mount at Windsor, in the giant Athos du Vallot. This horse looked impressive when ridden by Smith on the indoor World Cup circuit (he was runner-up in the Dortmund qualifier in March) but this will be their first outdoor show together.