Joe Whitaker may have thought 2006 could not get any better, but the teenager from Yorkshire out rode all his rivals at Towerlands in the Unex Masters Grand Prix.
This final class of the four-day CSI carried a £15,000 prize-fund and Bob Ellis’s track was long, tough and uncompromising. Only seven of the 55 starters went clear, although eight went forward to the jump-off.
Portia Howard got the action underway with one down, followed by Ireland’s Cian O’Connor who set the standard with a superb round on Markopoulo. Richard Davenport then took the lead by more than 2sec with a great performance on Martin Dawes’s Nelson Z.
Di Lampard settled for seventh after Master Cruise made one mistake, while William Funnell set off like a rocket on Billy Birr, who pushed out a pole on the way to sixth place. Guy Williams was also lightning fast on Skip Two Ramiro, but they lowered the final fence to drop them down the order.
The winning round came next. Joe Whitaker, 18, never took a pull on Desdemona. They met every fence on a perfect stride to take the lead by 1.5sec. Last to go was Henry Turrell on his home-produced Oldenburger, Playboy S. They broke the beam 0.72sec in arrears for second place.
Read Horse & Hound’s in-depth report on all the action at Towerlands including stunning photographs, plus reports from Arena UK, Badgworth, Crofton Manor, Moorhouse, Gracelands and Toronto CSIW in tomorrow’s magazine (22 November, ’06)