On Sunday (1 February), it was 25-year-old William who secured victory in the grand prix with the 12-year-old Swedish-bred gelding Fandango (Last Liberty x Krocket), taking home the 25,000euro top prize after a pulsating five-rider jump-off.
“He’s jumped good all week and perhaps I had a bit of luck in the jump-off but today was my day,” said William, who was making his debut at the venue at which Robbie Williams and Nicole Scherzinger starred as part of the evening entertainment. “It was good to finish on a good note. But it was a tough course. [My uncle] John is a great supporter of mine so I’m sure that if he can’t win, he’s very proud that another Whitaker can win.”
William finished just ahead of Turkey’s Omer Karaevli (Dadjak Ter Puttenen) with Gerco Schroder third with the only other double clear on Glock’s Cognac Champblanc for the Netherlands.
John Whitaker, past winner of two grands prix at the Austrian venue, had to settle for fifth this time around when nudging out a brick in the wall in the jump-off with the 13-year-old stallion Argento, but on Friday the pair headed a valuable jump-off class with some crucial Longines ranking points on offer.
On the youngster tour, Ireland’s Bertram Allen and his stable jockey Alex Duffy were both winners with two talented seven-year-olds. Bertram’s win came on day one with Cheese WZ (Chatman x Galoubet) while Alex headed the line-up on Friday with Dancing Queen Z (Dulf Van De Bisschop x Quintessence Z), going on to finish second in Sunday’s final.
Don’t miss the full report from the season opener at the Austrian venue in next week’s Horse & Hound, out on Thursday, 5 February.