Whitakers take Windsor by storm

  • Robert Whitaker, 23, won the prestigious Windsor Grand Prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show this afternoon, trumping his uncle Michael Whitaker by a fraction of a second. The young talent, who trained with Ludgar Beerbaum over the winter, takes home £4,100 – Royal Windsor’s biggest prize.

    “It was easy!” said Robert, who was the last to jump off in front of a tense crowd, “I just watched Michael and tried to do the same but a bit quicker.”

    Bob Ellis’s first round course was solidly built and caught out a couple of top names, including William Funnell who won the Grand Prix title last year. “I thought it was big enough,” Michael Whitaker told HHO afterwards, “but the ground here is so good, there’s no sting when they land.”

    Despite the up-to-height course, an impressive number jumped clear ensuring a competitive jump-off. Chloe Bunn and Buddy Bunn, Speed Stakes winners earlier in the week, clocked up an unfortunate four penalties at a particularly wide oxer on a turn, putting them out of contention. The oxer became the class decider – a he who dares obstacle, which saw several others notching up penalties or failing to make the turn quick enough.

    Stylish young rider Ricki Hill left all fences standing but was not fast enough for the big money. Hill was riding Prince of Wales, who Michael Whitaker partnered at the Sydney Olympics. Mark Armstrong jumped clear on Thesaura, just quicker than Peter Charles on Pall Mall H, also clear.

    But Michael Whitaker, riding a fresh looking Insultech Mozart, turned tightly into the oxer and completed clear, shaving almost a second off Mark Armstrong’s time. It was then only his nephew Robert who could take the Windsor Crown.

    Partnering Lacroix 9, Robert rode an expertly judged round, finishing 0.78 sec faster than Michael. But Robert’s victory has not made him complacent and he is keen to recognise his uncle’s prowess, “If his horse hasn’t been so fresh he’d have been quicker,” he said generously.

    1. Robert Whitaker Lacroix 9
    2. Michael Whitaker Insultech Mozart
    3. Mark Armstrong Thesaura
    4. Peter Charles Pall Mall H
    5. Ricki Hill Prince of Wales

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