William Whitaker won the fifth round of the Longines FEI World Cup jumping series in Stuttgart, Germany, yesterday (Sunday 23 November), driving off in a brand new Mercedes.
Riding the 11-year-old Swedish warmblood gelding Fandango, 25-year-old William set an unbeatable target from early draw in a 10-horse jump-off to claim his second victory in a World Cup qualifier — the first came seven years ago in Mechelen.
He beat American rider Lucy Davis (Barron) into the runner-up spot, with the Olympic champions Steve Guerdat and Nino Des Buissonnets in third.
William’s uncle, Michael Whitaker, didn’t make the jump-off after succumbing to four faults with Viking, but he was on hand to watch 22-year-old Lucy’s leading round against the clock, advising William to “put your foot to the floor from the start!”
“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!” said William, whose rivals failed to come within 2sec of his winning time.
“He [Fandango] has 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.”
William will join a high class field of international riders at Olympia next month (16-22 December).
“I’m really looking forward to competing at Olympia in front of the home crowd,” he said. “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.”
Steve Guerdat’s third place means he now heads the Western European league standings by 10 points.
“I wanted to win because I’ve finished second here at Stuttgart three times so it would mean a lot,” said the Swiss rider. “But the jump-off didn’t suit my horse.”
Longines FEI World Cup Western European League standings after round five at Stuttgart
- Steve Guerdat SUI – 57
- Harrie Smolders NED – 47
- Kevin Staut FRA – 38
- Jur Vrieling NED – 33
- Lucy Davis USA – 30
- Reed Kessler USA – 30
- Martin Fuchs SUI – 28
- Marcus Ehning GER – 28
- Pius Schwizer SUI – 27
- Francois Marthy Jr FRA – 25
Don’t miss the full report from the Stuttgart German Masters in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday (27 November).