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‘He was unbelievable’: Whitaker secures sensational first World Cup win

Britain’s Robert Whitaker secured his first ever World Cup win in Helsinki yesterday (27 October) on his long-term ride Catwalk IV.

Robert and the 16-year-old gelding beat Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya and Jet Run into second place in the Finnish leg of the 2019-20 Longines World Cup series, the final of which was won by Robert’s father John and the legendary Milton in 1990 and 1991.

The tight dimensions of the Ice Hall in Helsinki may not be to some horses’ liking, but Robert said: “He just likes arenas like this — he has a lot of power and he can easily jump big fences off a turn, although today he was unbelievable.”

One fence in particular proved influential in Brazilian Guilherme Jorge’s track; a blue wall that scuppered the hopes of top combinations including world number one Steve Guerdat on Alamo, on whom he won the World Cup final in April but who ran out at the fence in the first round.

The wall was also a factor in deciding the final result, as Kevin Staut also parted company with For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC there, after a “scramble”.

But Catwalk IV took the wall on with “gusto” in both rounds to take the win in a nine-strong jump-off, having also won the grand prix the previous day.

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“He hasn’t been over-jumped recently so he was fit enough to go well in both classes here,” Robert said. “I just think when he jumps well, he’s as good as any!”

Robert is now among those with his sights set on the 2020 Longines World Cup final in Las Vegas next April. The top 18 on points in the western European league will qualify.

The third round of the 14-leg western European league gets under way in Lyon, France, next Sunday.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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