A quartet of riders from the Whitaker dynasty make up the British team in this afternoon’s Longines FEI Nations Cup (Friday, 28 July) at the Royal International Horse Show, following the withdrawal of William Funnell’s Billy Buckingham.
The talented nine-year-old — winner of the Eindhoven Derby in May and sixth in the Al Shira’aa Derby last month — was pulled out from the team after being a “touch” lame yesterday.
He underwent a nerve block last night, which meant he couldn’t be ridden today. William, however, confirmed the horse is “okay” this morning.
Michael Whitaker will therefore be joined by his nephews William and Robert — the latter will partner the 14-year-old Catwalk IV.
Michael will ride the 15-year-old Viking, with whom he recently won the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial at the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting.
William meanwhile rides his experienced championship horse, Utamaro D’Ecaussines, who he has ridden since September 2016.
Joe Clayton, Michael’s second cousin, has stepped in to replace William Funnell’s spot on the British team today and will partner Sarah Billington’s 10-year-old Con Man JX. The 27-year-old is based with Michael as his Nottinghamshire yard.
Di Lampard’s team will be hoping to score their first Nations Cup victory this season and improve on the disappointing British performance in Aachen last week, where the team racked up 54 penalties to finish lower down the scoreboard.
The British team last won the Nations Cup title at Hickstead in 2010, with a team comprising Tina Fletcher, William Funnell, Peter Charles and Michael Whitaker.
The Nations Cup kicks off at 2.15pm this afternoon (Friday, 28 July) and Britain faces tough opposition from teams including The Netherlands, Brazil, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain.
Don’t miss the full report from the Royal International Horse Show in Horse & Hound, on sale Thursday 3 August.