Michael Whitaker: ‘I certainly didn’t expect 14 clears’ [H&H VIP]

  • This year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show was as good as any— I never heard a complaint from anyone, so that’s got to be a good sign. Edward Bunn and his team deserve credit once again because the ground was unbelievable, the horses love jumping on it — it’s the best ring in the world.

    The standard in the King’s Cup was very high — it was a difficult course so I certainly didn’t expect 14 clears. Maybe the time could have been a bit shorter in the first round, but it was pretty fair — I don’t like it when it’s desperately short on time because it takes the jumping out of the class.

    I’m happy to see the ladies come out in front at last. The class is basically a grand prix, so all the best riders should be in it and Beezie’s one of them (pictured above with Cortes C). But Bertram Allen’s performance was unbelievable too. He’s a real competitor.

    I was second to go in the jump-off so had to have a right go and Amai just touched one fence and it came down. But he’s on great form and loves these big rings. Adventure De Kannan is the same — as you saw when he and Trevor Breen won the Queen’s Cup on Saturday, they can get a really nice canter up and always go well here. I bet Trevor’s horse would go really well in the vast ring at Aachen too.

    The Nations Cup was disappointing and I don’t understand why, at our home leg, Ben Maher and Scott Brash weren’t on their top horses.

    But the only horse that didn’t jump to his best in it was Robert Whitaker’s Catwalk IV. But then he came back and won the day after and jumped clear again on Sunday. Jessie Drea’s horse unfortunately had an easy fence in both rounds and, for a young horse, Guy Williams’ Zaire coped very well with it all. Ben’s horse just spooked at the water — that’s something you can’t avoid in that ring, but he jumped very well to get round otherwise.

    But to win these Nations Cups, you have to be able to produce clear rounds and USA proved it. They are always strong at the big championships and with Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, two of the best riders in the world, on the team, they’re always going to be the ones to beat.

    This guest column was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (7 August, 2014)