Whitaker back in form

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The Independent Online
A few months ago Michael Whitaker described this as his "worst ever" year in show jumping, but his fortunes have since improved with the help of two of his younger horses: nine-year-old Magic Carpet and eight-year- old Ashley, writes Genevieve Murphy.

Whitaker relies on these two exciting prospects for the five-day Olympia Show Jumping Championships, which begin in London today. Either could prove to be better than his more experienced partners, Twostep and Midnight Madness, who have both had frustrating problems this year.

Magic Carpet, a nine-year-old bay gelding who was bred in France, will probably be Whitaker's mount for Saturday's Volvo World Cup qualifier which carries a first prize of a car worth pounds 20,000. Having retired from this competition last year after three mistakes with Midnight Madness, Whitaker is eager to stay with the action this time.

The action was marvellously fast and furious last year, when Germany's Olympic champion Ludger Beerbaum defeated Nick Skelton by the narrowest of possible margins: 0.01sec. For good measure Franke Sloothaak, the reigning world champion, finished 0.16sec behind the leader in third place. These three riders will do their best to provide jumping of the same quality at Olympia this year.