Whitaker romps to third victory

Equestrianism
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The Independent Online
John Whitaker continued his irresistible form when he rode the 17-year- old Virtual Village Grannusch yesterday to gain his third victory of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships.

He defeated Bert Romp of the Netherlands, who was finishing runner-up to Whitaker and Grannusch for the fourth time in four weeks. Having jumped his swift round on Burg's Samantha, Romp was far from complacent. "With John behind me I don't count on winning any more," he said.

Whitaker proved the point when he overtook Romp by 0.11sec, but it was not yet over for the Dutch. Jos Lansink, who was last to go in the jump- off on the grey Bachus, had time in hand when he hit the last fence to leave the British with another victory.

Nick Skelton and Virtual Village Zalza, who had won the Vink Christmas Masters so impressively on Thursday night, continued to catch the eye yesterday. First to go in the jump-off, the bright chestnut gelding made his only error going into the final double, and he eventually finished in sixth place.

Ben Dunning, 17, won the Speedline Telecom Young Show Jumper of the Year title on his first appearance at Olympia. He rode Miss Party Piece, an eight-year-old mare who represents his main hope for selection at next year's Junior European team.

Franke Sloothaak, the world champion from Germany, later broke through the British defences (and pushed John Whitaker back to runner-up) when he won the UPS Christmas Cake Stakes, on San Patrignano Nikita. And, in a dramatic UPS Puissance, Switzerland's Beat Mandli, on Don Ramiro, shared first place with Britain's Guy Goosen, on Sagrat.

Both joint winners had jumped clear in the fourth and final jump-off, when they cleared the massive wall of 7ft 5in. Goosen's horse had won outright last year, when the wall was an inch lower. This time both horses looked as though they could have gone on to beat the record achieved in 1982 when the height was measured at 7ft 5in "and a bit". The rules, however, now limit the puissance to a maximum of five rounds.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 23

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