EMOTIONAL MICHAEL WHITAKER WINS COVETED OLYMPIA CROWN by Louise Parkes
London GBR, 19 December 2010 – Emotion ran high as Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker celebrated his spectacular victory in today’s seventh leg of the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping series at Olympia in London. The 50 year old Yorkshire-born rider was almost speechless with delight after seeing off a class field that included second-placed Irishman Billy Twomey and World No. 1 Kevin Staut from France who had to settle for third. Whitaker choked back the tears in a post-competition TV interview – “The draw had a lot to do with it,” he said modestly, but this did little justice to the skill with which he steered his 10 year old gelding home to an explosion of applause from the ecstatic home crowd.
“The best man won here today,” declared Twomey, whose former mentor, Whitaker, has watched the Irishman steadily climb up the rankings this season. “They say form is temporary, but class is permanent!” Twomey added, paying the ultimate compliment to the man who started him on his road to success.
Course designer Guilherme Jorge from Brazil admitted that he had under-estimated the quality of today’s 37-strong field. “I don’t build very often here in Europe and I know the level of the competition is very high – I should have built bigger. The jumping here has been really amazing,” he said.