Golden Jubilee Horse of the Year Show: Virtual a reality again for Whitaker

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITAKER added the PA Business Systems International Cup to his string of victories at the Golden Jubilee Horse of the Year Show at Wembley yesterday.

Whitaker then looked on course for a fourth show victory in the Dick Turpin Stakes, a speed contest, riding Virtual Village Hunter's Level, but they hit three poles in succession, while chasing the target set by Peter Charles and Traxdata Dolly. The ex-European champion gave a brilliant display of precision jumping while taking the shortest route to win.

The 18-year-old Virtual Village Welham is back in a big way having been laid off with a leg problem, and Whitaker, ranked No 1 in Britain is well on his way to being leading jumper of the year yet again.

Second, for Belgium, was Philip Le Jeune riding Candy Floss, with Britain's Robert Bevis third on True Hero.

Whitaker said he was tempted to jump the horse again today in the Grand Prix "but I'm not going to". He will rely instead on Amber du Montois as planned. "I expect her to be very good one day but she's very difficult at the moment and its asking a lot," he said. Welham will have a day off. "He's fitter now more than ever having lost weight over his shoulders," said a thrilled Whitaker.

Dutchman Roelof Bril on his first visit to Wembley outsped a competitive field in the Silver Bullet Salvar, sponsored by magazines Your Horse and Horse and Pony. Drawn third, their clear round in 56.66 seconds proved too good to beat. Only Ireland's Harry Marshall, also enjoying an excellent show, could go clear again, just failing to catch the leader in 57.21. The rest of the 24 runners added jumping penalties to their times. Bril, aged 33 whose father was trainer to the Dutch eventing team, has shown consistently good form this week. He bought Carpedieu from Henk Nooren just two months ago and the partnership bonded quickly to win three classes at Linz earlier this month. The Dutchman, who has clearly profited from the experience of riding young horses for the great Hugo Simon and finished fifth in the 1993 European Championships, praised the arena at Wembley, saying: "The floor is fantastic and your course designer Bob Ellis is excellent."