Whitaker out to make giant leap on Portofino

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The Independent Online

Michael Whitaker needs to advance from 14th to fourth place in today's two show jumping rounds if he is to qualify for one of four places in tomorrow's horse-swapping final, which will be the closing contest of the World Equestrian Games. It sounds like a tall order, but Whitaker has not given up hope.

The only Briton, among the top 25 who go forward, will need to jump two clear rounds on the mare Insultech Portofino. He will then have to hope the 10 riders above him make errors.

"She's very reliable and I've no worries for the next couple of days, she'll last the pace," he said yesterday of Portofino, who has already jumped three rounds for the team that finished ninth late on Thursday night when the Netherlands won from the United States and Germany.

Having produced their best championship performance for years, British riders were frustrated. They would have been sixth had John Whitaker's inexperienced mount Peppermill not over-reacted when he was checked going into the treble and come back to a trot, with the inevitable result that he had the first element down.

"Normally our form would have been good enough to get us into the top three," Michael Whitaker said. But the standard of jumping has been phenomenal, especially from the four leaders of the individual: Beezie Madden of the United States, Gerco Schröder of the Netherlands, Germany's Ludger Beerbaum and the Dutch 2000 Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam.