John Whitaker left the arena £9,500 richer at Olympia this afternoon when he won the Christmas Masters. Partnering the celebrated stallion Exloit de Roulard, Whitaker cleared an impressive 1m 65 to finish first in this nail-biting test of bravery and ability.

Only the seven best riders in the show so far are invited to participate in the Christmas Masters. A short course of snow-dusted fences included an oxer and a double with planks as the final fence.

A £4,000 purse was on offer at the beginning of round one, with £500 pounds added after each clear round. Jumps started at a sedate 1m50 with each riders selecting one to be raised as they entered the arena.

British riders dominated the line-up with last night’s puissance winner John Whitaker joined by his niece Ellen and nephew Robert as well as Mark Armstrong and Tim Stockdale. Germany was the only other nation represented with Markus Beerbaum on Constantin and Frank Sloothaak with Legurio.

Tim Stockdale and Cloudy Night were the only pair not to make it past the first round and Ellen Whitaker and AK Ouinten were knocked out in round two. By round three the purse had risen to £9,000.

Franke Sloothaak was first to go out in the third round, when he knocked the final planks. Mark Armstrong was next when he clipped the second part of the double. Robert Whitaker and Finbarr V cleared an impressive 1m55 before the planks fell as he finished his round. The final competitor, Markus Beerbaum knocked fence one leaving John Whitaker the out and out winner, with no need for a jump-off.

“I kept putting jump number one out because it was the best fence for me. In every course he [Exploit de Roulard] starts off really calm”, said John afterwards, adding that he had seen Franke Sloothaak as the most threatening opposion.

But for a pair who cleared an astonishing 7ft 3in to win the Christmas Puissance on Friday evening, the Masters was an easy ride. The 14-year-old Dutch stallion Exploit de Roulard missed three seasons when he was seven due to an accident. “He doesn’t feel like a 14-year-old,” John explained, “He’s always fresh.”

After Olympia the pair will be heading to the Dubai invitational to contest show jumping’s highest ever purse. “I’m really looking forward to Dubai,” John remarked.

Final Results

1. Exploit de Roulard John Whitaker (GBR) £9,500
2. Legurio Franke Sloothaak (GER) £1,000
2. Graf Gold Mark Armstrong (GBR) £1,000
2. Finbarr V Robert Whitaker (GBR) £1,000
2. Constantin Markus Beerbaum (GER) £1,000
6. AK Quinten Ellen Whitaker (GBR) £1,000
7. Cloudy Night Tim Stockdale (GBR) £1,000