William Whitaker makes history at Olympia Horse Show

  • William Whitaker, 18, added his own chapter to his family’s extraordinary history when he and Haddon House Leonardo cleared 2.16m to win the Accenture Puissance on Friday night at Olympia.

    The young Yorkshireman, who was competing in only his third such class, could hardly speak afterwards.

    “I can’t believe it,” he said, after beating Belfast winner Shane Breen (Lyssegan Clover Diamond) and his cousin Robert (Finbarr V) in the final round.

    Just when those watching thought the jumping could not get any better, along came Friday afternoon’s Christmas Cracker. With a £5,700 first prize on offer, the competition was always going to be hot.

    When Michael Whitaker galloped into the lead on Insultech Mozart Des Hayettes, the crowd was ready to celebrate. But last-drawn Danish rider Thomas Velin was quicker still and Godsend Du Reverdy answered every call to take the honours by 0.16sec.

    This is Thomas’s first visit to Olympia. “It’s a very special show with an atmosphere all of its own,” he said.

    Dutchman Leopold van Asten had been having a week he wanted to forget until VDL Groep Issis Du Marais put things right in the Accenture Stakes.

    Robert Whitaker (Rusedski II) looked on course for another win, but Leopold took an extra turn inside and moved ahead by more than 1sec.

    Leopold bought the 11-year-old by Papillon Rouge in April.

    “She a multi-functional horse,” he said of the chestnut who has won everything from grand prix to Derbys.

    Dan Neilson added the Accenture Young Show Jumper of the Year title to his tally after coming out top in a five-horse jump-off.

    The Essex-based rider may be only 17, but he already has individual European pony gold and junior silver medals. At Olympia, he followed trainers Jason and Katrina Moore’s instructions to the letter on Ungaro and held off Sophie Strawson on the scopey Parlinus by 1.27sec.

    Dan was lucky to get here at all after the 10-year-old Ungaro fell on concrete at the Scope Festival and removed most of the skin from his side and hindlegs.

    “He’s a really sensitive horse and the thing that’s pleased me most is that he trusted me so much today,” said Dan.

    Results (Top three and all British placings)

    Accenture Young Show Jumper of the Year
    1. Ungaro (Daniel Neilson)
    2. Parlinus (Sophie Strawson)
    3. Cermit (Amanda Derbyshire)

    Christmas Cracker
    1.Godsend Du Reverdy (Thomas Velin), DEN
    2. Insultech Mozart Des Hayettes (Michael Whitaker)
    3. HBC Dancing Queen (Julia Kayser), AUT
    4. Kalusha (Robert Smith)

    Accenture Stakes
    1. VDL Groep Issis Du Marais (Leopold van Asten), HOL
    2. Rusedski II (Robert Whitaker)
    3. For Fun (Marcus Ehning), GER
    4. Merva Des Hayettes (Guy Williams)
    8. Lady Des Hayettes (Michael Whitaker)
    9. Casino (John Whitaker)

    Accenture Puissance
    1. Hadon House Leonardo (William Whitaker)
    2eq. Lyssegan Clover Diamond (Shane Breen), IRE & Finbarr V (Robert Whitaker)
    5eq. Una II (Guy Williams)
    10. Peppermill (John Whitaker)

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