After a successful week for British riders competing at the Olympia Horse Show, Michael Whitaker secured victory in the show’s Rolex World Cup qualifier on GIG Amai after a tense jump-off.
Guilherme Jorge, the course’s Brazilian designer, admitted that the fences should have perhaps been bigger when 16 made it through to the jump-off.
“I don’t build in Europe that often,” he said. “And the standard is very high; maybe I should have gone for more height.”
A tight cluster of turns near the collecting ring entrance proved crucial, with a number of horses slipping and losing balance as their riders tried to better their rivals’ time.
France’s Kevin Staut, the current World number one and Western European League leader, looked to have set the winning time with Le Prestige St Lois de Hus, but he was quickly beaten by Ireland’s Billy Twomey.
Billy was then followed by his former boss and mentor Michael Whitaker, who bettered his target again with GIG Amai. And after the last horse had jumped and Michael was announced as winner, he became quite emotional.
“I’ve not had the best of year’s, so this win is very important,” he said. “Just winning is important, but to win a qualifier here is so important. It’s hopefully a change of luck for me.”
A former World Cup qualifier winner here, Peter Charles, watched his son steal the limelight on the penultimate day of the show. Harry Charles took first place after a smooth trip round the jump-off course with Murka’s Mathew’s Girl in the mini stakes.
Australia’s Edwina Alexander puled herself out of a drought of wins this week by taking the Ivy Stakes with Cevo Socrates, while Norway Geir Gulliksen headed the H&M speed stakes on Rusedski, a former ride of Robert Whitaker’s.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Olympia horse show, on sale Thursday 23 December