The Whitaker family started the Olympia Horse Show in perfect form, winning every class on the first day show jumping day. Ellen, Michael and Robert each claimed at least one class, riding with total determination from the outset.
Ellen Whitaker started the famous family’s run of victories by taking the opening welcome stakes with her prolific winner Cortaflex Kanselier. The 17-year-old gelding, whom Ellen has partnered for eight years, may not jump as regularly as he used to, but when he does he usually ends up with a red rosette.
“He loves shows like this where he can chill out in his stable between classes,” said Ellen. “He’s not the sort of horse who likes to jump at a show having come straight off the lorry. That’s probably why he tends to do better at international shows than national shows.”
Later in the day, Ellen rode Cortaflex Kanselier again in the Pony Club mini-major relay, partnering Leonie Aitkenhead and her Connemara Martlets Masters Madam. With Ellen shouting instructions to her 11-year-old teammate, their change over was timed perfectly and for the second time in the day the 23-year-old stood at the top of the line-up.
Michael Whitaker, took the day’s jump-off class, The Christmas Pudding Stakes, with the Gillespie Investment Groups Portofino 63. This was only the now 15-year-old mare’s second competitive outing in six months.
“She’s going really well and has been kept very fit with work at home,” said Michael. “However, she’s now happier jumping classes at 1.50m – 1.55m now. I think she’s getting a bit tired of trying over bigger courses.”
Michael, who has been “on a mission” since his return from a four-month ban admitted he still has strong feelings over the way his case and punishment was handled.
“I’m not saying the show jumpers who tested positive at the Olympics did or didn’t do anything on purpose, but I made an honest mistake and was treated far more harshly than them,” he said. “I’ve never had four months away from competition in my life.”
Robert Whitaker closed the show by snatching victory from Ben Maher (Wonderboy III) with Lacroix 9 as the last rider of the day. He had been based in Belgium since the summer, but returned home last Monday.
“I had a good run over there,” he said. “It was easy to get to shows and I’m definitely thinking of going back there.”
Listen to Robert Whitaker’s interview
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