‘It’s always a gamble when you try to beat the legend!’ – young rider pips John Whitaker to London win

  • Young Swiss rider Edouard Schmitz prevented John Whitaker from winning a second London Horse Show showjumping class this afternoon in the mistletoe speed stakes.

    John had snatched the lead from 13th draw with Green Grass, the borrowed horse on whom he won the two-phase on Friday.

    “He’s naturally quite a fast horse, so I just have to contain myself and not try to go too fast,” said John. “My time is beatable, but if you go faster, you risk knocking the jumps.”

    London Horse Show showjumping: John Whitaker and Green Grass

    John Whitaker and Green Grass finish second in the mistletoe speed stakes at London International Horse Show. Credit: Peter Nixon

    However, the penultimate competitor, 22-year-old Edouard, managed to both leave all the fences up and go faster, stopping the clock on 49.3sec against John’s 50.67sec.

    “I saw John’s round and I knew that I had a bit of an advantage horse-wise because my horse is really, really fast over the jumps,” said the London Show Show showjumping debutant. “So I knew if I took a few more risks, I had a good chance of pulling ahead.

    “It’s always a gamble when you try to beat the legend John Whitaker, but it worked out so I’m really pleased.”

    Edouard has had the 12-year-old Balou Du Rouet mare Balenciana K for three years.

    “I’ve done Nations Cups on her and we kind of figured out that she’s really good for speed classes, so we’ve been trying to use her as a speed horse and she’s really done her job,” said Edouard.

    “She likes to be spoken to politely. She’s a real chestnut mare. The legend is true that chestnut mares are sometimes a bit sassy and she’s definitely one of those.”

    Edouard said his first time at this show has been “unbelievable”.

    “The crowd is just that something you don’t experience every weekend of the year,” he said.

    Edouard’s compatriot Martin Fuchs put in the fastest round of the class on Tam Tam Du Valon, already a double winner this week, but he lowered the final two fences so added six seconds to his time to finish fifth.

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