Tag Archives: William Whitaker

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Again on Day Four of Olympia

The fourth day of Olympia, The London International Horse Show provided top class sport and entertainment from the outset, with another exceptional day for Great Britain.

William Whitaker, fresh from victory in the Cayenne Puissance, took the opening CSI5* Show Jumping competition of the day, The Shelley Ashman International Shipping Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes, with the Lemieux Six Bar going to Laura Renwick. The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes, the feature class of the evening, was won by Anthony Condon.

Meanwhile, Extreme Driving got underway with a win for World No. 1 Boyd Exell, with Britain’s Daniel Naprous recording his best-ever result in second.

A 20-year-old dressage horse belied his age to win the Olympia Senior Showing & Dressage Championships sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers. Helen Christie’s Silvano KR, ridden by 16-year-old GCSE student Gracie Catling, looked in peak condition to take the laurels. In the in-hand section, the remarkable 32-year-old Hot Fuss, shown by Laura Oughton-Aker, took the honours.

There was fast and furious action from The Saracen Horse Feeds Shetland Pony Grand National, with wins for Alfie Diaper riding Damerham Briar Lilly and Nelly Stephens aboard Briar Tiffany. The Kennel Club Dog Agility was a close-run affair with Anthony Clarke and Eliza Doolots of Ashpen winning the afternoon’s Kennel Club Medium Jumping Grand Prix supported by Skinners and Dawn Weaver taking the Kennel Club Medium Agility Stakes Finals supported by Skinners with Galaxy’s Ace of Spades later in the evening.

Popular British rider William Whitaker is on a roll at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. Having shown his mettle over height, taking joint first by clearing 7ft 2in with RMF Charly in the Cayenne Puissance, he proved his competitive versatility with a speed win in the Shelley Ashman International Ltd, E M Rodgers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes by a massive 3 seconds with RMF Chacco Top.

Being drawn in the top half of the field, William, who is based between Germany and the USA, had to set a tough target. The tactic worked and after a number of rivals collected faults trying to chase him others opted for a steadier pace and a safer placing, with Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer riding Cas coming closest to take second place.

“He [RMF Chacco Top] had a couple down yesterday, but he needed to get used to the arena,” said William. “The crowds really help to give you a boost; they are like that right through the show; it’s great.”

The evening performance got underway with another British win in The Lemieux Six Bar. Jumping big fences is all about power and Laura Renwick’s partner Top Dollar VI has that by the bucketload. Clearing the final 1.95m fence with ease, the pair took the win as the only combination to remain faultless after four rounds.

“I hate to say he makes it easy, but the strength he has is special,” said Renwick of the 10-year-old stallion, joking: “I just wish I had a bit more control!”

The class involved the fences being raised in each round, a pole on the floor resulting in elimination. By round four, only four combinations remained. Laura and Top Dollar VI set the standard, producing their faultless run at the final four-fence line as first to go. However, each one of the three that followed – Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Fabregas, Michael Pender (IRE) and Hearton de Bois Halleux, and Emily Moffitt (GBR) and Copain du Perchet – all faulted to hand Renwick the win.

The feature class of the day saw another big win for Ireland as Anthony Condon took the Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes on his own and Pat Hales’ SFS Vincomte with two perfectly judged clear rounds, despite being the class pathfinder.

Condon, who is from Co Waterford but lives on the Shropshire/Cheshire border, was first to go in a competitive field of 33 and made it look easy on the nine-year-old by Veni Vidi Vici. Scott Brash, next to go on Hello Jefferson, also went clear, but then Course Designer Alan Wade’s cleverly designed track began to exert influence with faults evenly spread throughout the course.

Just when it looked like a two-horse jump-off, faultless rounds came for Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels (Delux van T & L), regular US visitor Laura Kraut (Confu), William Whitaker (RMF Echo), and German Olympian Marcus Ehning (Comme II Faut).

Condon’s jump-off time of 38.53 was clearly beatable, but surprisingly, none of the other five could produce a clear round, William Whitaker taking second with the fastest time of 34.48 seconds but a fence down.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, especially looking at the standard of the other riders in the jump-off,” admitted Condon, 32, who will ride SFS Vincomte in Sunday night’s Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “My horse is quite green for this level, but he was more settled today. He just needs more experience and then he will be top class.”

The Irishman, whose three-year-old son Hector was keen to tell Father Christmas about Daddy’s win, is now fourth in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings after two full days of jumping, behind the British trio of Holly Smith, William Whitaker, and Ben Maher. Michael Jung, the reigning Olympic eventing champion, who is paying his first visit to Olympia, is in equal fifth place with Laura Renwick.

The first driving competition took off with a bang, as Boyd Exell cruised home ahead of Daniel Naprous in the Extreme Driving, supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett.

The timed competition, consisting of two rounds with the fastest three going through to the second round to complete a different course against the clock, was an exciting opener to the FEI Driving World Cup classes, which will come later in the week. British driver Daniel Naprous meant business when he entered the arena for the first time, and drove with full power and determination to finish on 133.39 seconds with 4 to count.

This was a momentous occasion for Naprous, who qualified for his first ever drive-off. USA’s Chester Weber, drawn second to go, made an early error but made up for it with some spectacular driving to finish on 144.41 and 4. Last to go, Boyd Exell produced a masterclass of fluidity and speed, finishing the first round on 129.6 with nothing to add to head into the lead.

In the second round, Naprous was quick but paid the price with 12 to add. A steadier round from Weber still resulted in two balls falling for 8 faults; however, Exell’s second drive was foot perfect, driving a clear round in a time of 131.77 seconds to take the victory.

Exell said, “When I walked the course, I knew it could be very fast. Tight turns also meant you had to drive with 100% accuracy, so I’m really pleased with how my team performed.”

Please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Double Delight as Whitaker and Pender Share Puissance Spoils

The third day of action at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, welcomed the world’s best show jumpers to Olympia Grand. Seven of the top ten riders attended, with Britain’s Holly Smith getting the Show off to a flying start by taking the opening class, The Welcome Stakes, by the narrowest of margins from compatriot Laura Renwick.

The Cayenne Puissance had the sell-out crowd on their feet, with William Whitaker and Michael Pender taking joint honours, both clearing a remarkable 2.18 metres (7ft 2in) in the fifth round. Earlier in the day Darragh Kenny scored an impressive victory in The Santa Stakes supported by Olympia, while reigning European Champion Martin Fuchs sped to victory in the Musto Inside Edge Stakes.

An elite line-up of top show jumpers also took centre stage alongside their junior counterparts in The Aztec Diamond Pony Club Mini-Major. The pairs relay was a fiercely fought contest, with Norway’s Karina Hovland, partnered with Essex Hunt North Pony Club’s Laila Ramaci, coming out eventual winners. Nine-year-old Laila was very modest about her round with Dinky, but Karina was quick to offer praise to her young partner, saying, “Actually, you were really rather quick to the last!”

Two of the most stylish young riders on the circuit topped the results list in equal first place after a quality Cayenne Puissance competition which, for the second year running, went to a thrilling fifth and final round. The familiar face of Britain’s William Whitaker and Michael Pender, an Irishman making his Olympia debut, both cleared the famously imposing wall at 7ft 2in.

Last year’s joint winner, Guy Williams on the big grey Mr Blue Sky UK, also made it to the final round but knocked a brick out of the wall on his last attempt.

An elated Whitaker’s result was all the more credible as it was a first Puissance for Rushy Marsh Farm LLC’s 10-year-old RMF Charly. “I was a bit apprehensive, but the crowd lifts you and it feels as if you have another person on your back,” he said.

“I’m over the moon with the horse. He’s got a nice active canter and he just got better and better. He’s quite a character at home – a right Charlie, in fact.”

At 10 years younger than Whitaker, 20-year-old Pender clearly has a bright future. Having ridden since a child at his parents’ riding school in Co Kilkenny, he sprang into the limelight when he won the Hickstead Derby on Paul van den Bosch’s magnificent 12-year-old stallion Hearton du Bois Halleux.

“It’s a pleasure to ride a horse like that,” said Pender. “It makes your job a lot easier. Everything you ask him he’ll do. He was a bit tense at first, but then he improved with each round.”

The opening CSI5* class, The Welcome Stakes (1.40m), saw a British one-two with Holly Smith and Flipper Darco UK Z taking the victory by just 0.03 seconds from Laura Renwick aboard Bintang II. Germany’s Olympic Eventing Champion Michael Jung, competing at Olympia this week with his show jumping hat on, finished close behind in third place, riding the eight-year-old Dante RZ.

The feature class of the day, The Santa Stakes supported by Olympia (1.55m), provided top-class sport with the world’s best show jumping combinations competing for the €27,000 prize fund.  The first of the 10 riders through to the jump-off was Britain’s Holly Smith with her European Team Bronze Medal winning horse Heart’s Destiny who set the pace with a clear round in a time of 35.29 seconds.

William Whitaker followed with a smooth and speedy clear in a time of 34.45, putting the pressure on those to follow, but an exceptionally tight turn to the penultimate fence gave Darragh Kenny the advantage at the half-way stage. Those that followed valiantly tried to catch the Irishman but picked up faults on the way, with Kenny’s time proving impossible to catch, giving him the victory for the second successive year, this time aboard the 11-year-old Important de Muze.

Speaking after the class, Kenny said: “It’s such a great show here. I really like coming here every year; the crowd is always amazing and to start off with a win is really nice. I didn’t get to see William’s round, but I know my horse is quite careful and just went as fast as I could, which proved good enough today.”

The Musto Inside Edge Stakes, a 1.50m speed class, saw World No. 1 Steve Guerdat take an early lead riding Victorio des Frotards, jumping clear in a time of 55.42 seconds to set the pace. The notoriously fast Guy Williams pulled out all the stops aboard his 12-year-old gelding Cupido to take over the lead, crossing the line in 54.83 seconds, a time which proved good enough for second place.

Britain’s leading lady Holly Smith looked to place Williams’ lead in jeopardy, making an extremely tight turn back to the Houses of Parliament wall at fence four; however, her final time of 55.29 put her in eventual third position.

It was the reigning European Champion Martin Fuchs, fresh from Grand Prix victory in Geneva last weekend, who verified his World No. 2 credentials with an exceptionally smooth round, cutting all the corners to take the victory by over one second, posting a time of 53.47 with the talented 10-year-old grey mare Chica B Z.

A delighted Fuchs said: “It’s really nice to be here; it doesn’t feel like hard work and it’s a great Christmas feeling. Chica is quite experienced and is used to making tight turns so I didn’t have to do too much today.”

It was also a great night for young rider Emily Moffitt, who was presented with the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy, an award for the British under-25 rider who has shown the greatest potential for future success in that calendar year.

Please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

William Whitaker Wows the Crowd with Emotional Win at Olympia

William Whitaker with Utamaro d’Ecaussines. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

There’s nothing quite like a big win in front of the home crowd to trigger the emotions, but Great Britain’s William Whitaker (29) wasn’t the only one with a tear in his eye after he reigned supreme in the eighth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2018/2019 Western European League at Olympia in London (GBR). The packed stadium of spectators went wild with delight when their own man soared to victory over a world-class field in an 18-horse jump-off that was a nail-biter to the final footfall.

“It’s surreal! Since I’ve been coming here as a kid this has been a dream, and I can’t believe it’s actually happened!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

This was the biggest result of Whitaker’s career to date, as he pinned Belgium’s Karel Cox (36) into runner-up spot while American star, Laura Kraut (53), lined up in third.

With so many jumping clear over the first track presented by Portuguese course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral, it was never going to be easy to come out on top, but Whitaker had no doubt about his plan. “The World Cup at Olympia is like a Championship: you get one shot at it every year and it’s all got to come together on the day. I told myself, if you’re clear in the first round then don’t hold back!” – and he certainly didn’t when seventh to go with Utamaro d’Ecaussines.

He’s long had a superb relationship with the courageous 14-year-old stallion, and when the pair set the target at 37.02 seconds with the smoothest of fast rounds in which every fence seemed to come up in exactly the right spot, and every turn was pure perfection, then that really put it up to the rest of them.

However, two horses later it seemed Karel Cox and the nine-year-old Evert might just catch them when galloping down to the last. But the clock showed 37.21 to leave the Belgian contenders trailing by two-tenths of a second. Whitaker could hardly bear the tension.

“It was torture! Especially the last few – every one that goes by you get closer to the win, and it’s not just anyone; it’s the best riders in the world!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

Third-last to go was the magical German and world no. 4, Marcus Ehning, with his Geneva winner Pret a Tout. But when they turned too tight to the penultimate vertical, they paid the price with a pole down in the quickest time of 36.03 seconds.

Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester, winners of the previous leg at La Coruña in Spain two weeks ago, made a wider turn there to come home clear in 38.17, but Laura Kraut and Zeremonie looked a real threat when last into the ring. The pair who helped clinched team gold for the USA at the FEI World Equestrian Games in September stormed home with a determined run, but their time of 37.70 seconds would only prove good enough for third. It was destined to be William Whitaker’s day, and he could hardly believe it.

He was of course following in a proud family tradition. His uncles, John and Michael Whitaker, have enjoyed many major successes in the world-famous Grand Hall at Olympia during their spectacular careers. Following in their legendary footsteps means a great deal to their nephew.

“I have memories of watching John and Michael winning the World Cup here – one of the things that got me out of bed in the morning was thinking that someday I could do it too!” — William Whitaker (GBR)

And he was full of praise for Utamaro. “It helps when you’re on a horse like him; he has such a good brain and mentality. In the collecting ring I was struggling to get him into canter, but he just lights up when he goes in the ring; he grows a foot! I’m delighted for the horse and the owners, Jasmin and Ludwig Criel – he’s had fantastic results over the years, but we never won a Grand Prix and I can’t believe it’s this one!” Whitaker said.

He’s got some changes coming up in the new year when he will be relocating to Germany, so he’s not quite clear if he will be in a position to line out in further World Cup qualifiers. “We’ll sit together after Christmas and make a plan,” he said.

For many others chasing down those precious points towards the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next April, however, the next port of call is Mechelen in Belgium next weekend.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

William Whitaker Is the Conqueror at Stuttgart

Great Britain’s William Whitaker pictured with Longines representative Christiane Becherer after his victory with Fandango in today’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League qualifier at Stuttgart, Germany. (FEI/Karl-Heinz Freiler)

Stuttgart (GER), 23 November 2014 – William Whitaker stepped right into the limelight with a brilliant win with Fandango at the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League series in Stuttgart, Germany today. The 25-year-old nephew of British legends, John and Michael Whitaker, out-classed many of the best in the world in a thrilling 10-horse jump-off in which he set an impossible target-time when second to go.

America’s Lucy Davis was runner-up with Barron, while Steve Guerdat from Switzerland finished third with his Olympic gold medal winning ride, Nino des Buissonnets.

It was a career-defining moment for the young Englishman who lives at the Yorkshire farm where his father, Ian, grew up alongside two of the greatest names in the modern sport. And Uncle Michael played a role in today’s latest Whitaker success-story. He missed out on a place in the jump-off himself, due to a single first-round error with Viking, but he watched Davis set the pace against the clock and advised his nephew that “she was fast, so put your foot to the floor from the start!”

Pretty challenging

Course designer, Belgium’s Luc Musette, has a style all his own and set them a first-round test that proved pretty challenging.

“When we walked the course we all thought the last line was the most difficult, but it turned out it was easier than a lot of the rest of it!” said Guerdat afterwards. The two most troublesome spots were the double, oxer to vertical, at fence six and the triple combination at nine which was approached off a right-bending line following the previous oxer. Talking about the latter, Olympic champion Guerdat explained, “The problem was not the distance from the fence before; it was that there was water under the oxer at the B element and there were just three poles at the opening vertical so the horses could see the water through them, and a lot of them backed off. Also it was a one-stride to one-stride combination, so that always makes it more difficult,” he pointed out.

Davis, however, made it all look very elementary indeed with a fabulous first-to-go clear with her chestnut gelding, and Whitaker followed suit when tenth into the ring. The surprises of the day included retirements for both newly-crowned world champions Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith from The Netherlands after falling victim, like so many others, to the double at six and the triple combination, and for world team and individual silver medallist Patrice Delaveau from France who called it a day after Lacrimoso HDC lost his balance on take-off at the penultimate double and demolished the first element before grinding to a halt at the second element.

Led the way

Davis led the way against the clock, and again the 22-year-old who was a member of the bronze-medal-winning American team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, demonstrated her consummate professionalism with another brilliant run that stopped the clock on 49.84 seconds.

Whitaker was next. “I didn’t see Lucy go, but Michael said she was quick. I had my plan already made for what I had to do anyway, and my horse tried his best – I knew I was going fast!” the British rider said after breaking the beam in a staggering 47.27 seconds that proved just way too good, even for Guerdat whose reputation for sometimes scary acrobatics with his super-speedy horse makes him one of the most feared competitors on the circuit. And it wasn’t like the reigning Olympic champion wasn’t giving it everything he had when second-last into the ring.

“I wanted to win because I’ve finished second here at Stuttgart three times so it would mean a lot! But the jump-off didn’t suit my horse – I had to add a stride between the second and third fences, and again coming down to the last fence so I lost time there,” Guerdat explained. Three-time FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Germany’s Marcus Ehning, slotted into fourth with Cornado NRW ahead of Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fair Light van’t Heike in fifth while, last to go, The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder and Glocks Cognac Champblanc finished sixth.

Upward trajectory

Whitaker’s career has been on an upward trajectory for some time now following a series of great results with the mare Upperclass, but he might have expected to take a step back following her sale to Artisan Farms two months ago. However, the 11-year-old Fandango has stepped right into the breach.

“He’s been in really good form for the past few weeks, but this is his first season at World Cup level indoors and it’s a different experience for a horse. To win this class was pretty amazing!” the British rider said tonight.

Fandango’s fearless qualities paid dividends today, particularly at the bogey triple combination. “He’s not spooky at all, so the water-tray at the B element didn’t affect him. The course builder put it there to take the horse’s focus off the first element but my horse hardly noticed it. He’s always forward-going and I think he prefers bigger arenas, even outdoors. This is a good big arena here in Stuttgart so that suited him,” he explained.

Now Whitaker is planning the remainder of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping season. “Fandango will have two weeks off, and I’ll do a couple of small shows with some other horses, then he will come back for Geneva (SUI) and Olympia (GBR). I’m really looking forward to competing at Olympia in front of the home crowd. I haven’t been there for a few years and it will be nice because there will be a lot of the family around as well.”

Next weekend the Western European League moves on to a new venue in Madrid, Spain with Steve Guerdat, winner of the second leg at Helsinki, Finland, holding a strong lead on the league table and already well-qualified for the series Final, which will take place in Las Vegas, USA from 15-19 April 2015.

For further information on the fifth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League at Stuttgart, Germany, visit http://stuttgart-german-masters.de or contact Press Officer Joerg Klopfer, Email joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de or Tel +49 7119 5543128.

The next leg takes place in Madrid, Spain on Sunday 30 November. For details of the Spanish fixture, visit www.madridhorseweek.com or contact Press Officers Alba Fernandez, a.fernandez@madridhorseweek.com, +34 676 998 361, or Alejandra Camara, a.camara@madridhorseweek.com, +34 609 915 944.

Facts and Figures:

The Stuttgart German Masters presented Round 5 of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Western European League.

The League has a total of nine qualifiers from which the top 18 riders are eligible for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2105 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April.

9 German horse-and-rider combinations in starting field of 40.

4 retirements, including Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith from The Netherlands, who took team and individual gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France, and French rider Patrice Delaveau, who claimed team and individual silver in Caen.

10 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for today’s second-round jump-off against the clock.

6 produced double-clear performances.

Course designer was Belgium’s Luc Musette.

Today’s winning rider, 25-year-old William Whitaker, is a nephew of legendary British team members John and Michael Whitaker.

Two riders are already well-qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2014/2015 – Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland and The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders.

Quotes:

Steve Guerdat SUI – “The course designer did a good job; this was a nice and fair track to ride.”

William Whitaker GBR – “Michael (Whitaker) has trained me a lot and he has helped me at shows over the last year and more.”

Full standings here.

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Rider biographies: view online and download from http://fei.org/fei/your-role/media/biographies.

Longines has been based at Saint-Imier (SUI) since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. It has generations of experience as the official timekeeper at world championships and as a partner of international sports federations.

Longines’ passion for equestrian sports began in 1878, when it produced a chronograph engraved with a jockey and its mount. Over the years, the brand has built strong and long-lasting links with equestrian sports. In 1912, Longines was proud to partner with its first Jumping event, the Grande Concurso Hippico Internacional, in Portugal.

Today, Longines’ involvement in equestrianism includes Jumping, Endurance and flat racing.

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By Louise Parkes

Media Contacts:

At Stuttgart:

Joerg Klopfer
Email: joerg.klopfer@in.stuttgart.de
Tel: +49 (0)7 11 / 95 54 – 31 28

At FEI:

Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
Grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45