The Whitakers’ winning ways sparkle in Spain with Ellen and Donald on the podium

Monday 11 March 2024

The Whitakers’ winning ways sparkle in Spain with Ellen and Donald on the podium

Ellen Whitaker hit form to win the Ashford Farm Trophy 4* 1.50m with Korlenski on the Andalucia Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain.

The 69 starters were challenged by course-designer Marco Nunez’s 12-fence 1.50m track but Ellen made short work with the fastest route on Tilly Shaw’s nine-year-old daughter of Cornet Obolensky. No-one could match their efforts and the pair claimed a 1.41 second victory.

Ellen and her uncle John featured in an early, competitive 85-strong 4* Medium tour 1.45m, Ellen guiding the 11-year-old mare Conshira Blue PS (Conthargos x Chacco Blue) into second only 0.26 seconds off the winning time set by Sweden’s Sofia Westborg on Alencia Von Hary Z.  John Whitaker guided the Toulon 15-year-old Sharid into third.

Rain stopped play on Saturday with the majority of classes cancelled as flash flooding saw the arenas under water. But Simon Crippen bounced back on Sunday to record a big result in week five’s feature 4* Equine America Grand Prix – a qualifier for the Olympic Games – with second place on Handsome. 

Riders faced a 13-fence 1.55m course but, although a field of 47 tackled the challenging track, only three achieved their initial aim of a clean sheet to guarantee a podium place.  Simon and his wife Abbie’s Toulon x Phin Phin 12-year-old jumped another clear in a tense atmosphere to take second place 1.73 second off the winning time, set by Ireland’s British-based Jessica Burke with Express Trend.

Tabitha Kyle is taking the step up to four-star competitions in her stride and, just weeks into her return to competition after fracturing her neck in a hit and run car accident, she secured second place in the Hipotels Trophy with Desterly.

Forty-two riders came forward over a 13-fence 1.50m speed course with Tabitha, 16, putting in a sterling performance on TJ Hall’s Tolan R x Murano 16-year-old mare to cross the finish line exactly one second behind the winner, Poland’s Marek Lewicki on La Pezi.  William Whitaker was fractionally in arrears for third riding Chacco’s Lando.

Chloe Winchester had to settle for second in Friday’s Big tour 32-horse 4* 1.45m two-phase with Equine America Billy Take That, the Billy Mexico x Wellington 12-year-old only 0.20 seconds behind the winner, Czech’s Ales Opatrny on Holland TN. 

Jude Burgess was another British competitor to take a world ranking second place, slotting Tina HP into the runner-up spot in Sunday’s 38-entry 4* Big Tour 1.45m speed, the eight-year-old Toulon x Casalll mare 3.61 seconds off the winning time.

Brits also featured in the 4* La Equina Small Tour Grand Prix.  Eight of the 41 starters returned for the jump-off with William Walker steering the 11-year-old I’m Special The One AK into second 0.48 seconds off the winning time.  Fraser Reed was another three quarters of a second in arrears for third spot on the 11-year-old Westbank Rio. 


Donald Whitaker takes a victory double in Oliva Nova but Graham Gillespie steps up to claim the MET III Grand Prix

Graham Gillespie scooped the top-billed 2* Grand Prix with Veneno on the MET Spring Tour III in Oliva Nova, Spain.

Fifty-one hopefuls contended the world ranking 1.45m track set by world renowned German course-designer Frank Rothenberger with 15 riders finding the key to access the jump-off. Graham built on his third place earlier in the week to guide the consistent Veneno into the fastest time, utilising the Chacco-Blue x Baloubet Du Rouet 16-year-old gelding’s stride and scope to edge ahead by just 0.10 seconds. Taisie de Gruchy also returned a double clear for fourth place on Corento.

Fifty-four competitors faced a 13-fence track in Friday’s 1.45m speed with Donald galloping home on the 13-year-old Little Khira H (Bockmann’s Lord Pezi x Kolibri) to land the top spot from his partner, Germany’s Nicola Pohl in second aboard Fiona Des Hayettes by 0.32 seconds.  Graham gave Veneno a good run before the Grand Prix to take third place.

Donald’s flying form continued the following day, on this occasion riding Ulania 3. Nine of the original 49 starters secured a place in the jump-off with initial clears, Donald again finding the shortest route to pilot the 10-year-old Uriko x Acord II mare into victory with 0.40 seconds to spare.  Joe Clayton posted a double clear for third on Gentlemen VH Veldhof.

Izac Ketteridge got the British wins off to the best start in Thursday’s 1.45m Grand Prix qualifier on the 13-year-old Galerius (Diamant De Semilly X Sandro Boy).  Twenty-nine riders chased after glory over this speed track with Izac cutting the corners to spectacular success to score a 3.12 second win.


Harry Charles jumps to a USA five-star win

Harry Charles raced to the top spot in the $62,500 FEI 5* Bainbridge 1.50m with Aralyn Blue on week 9 at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington International, USA.

Harry crossed the pond to compete in Wellington and immediately hit success with his FEI Nations Cup Final partner Aralyn Blue. Sixty-four competitors made the trip over course-designer Alan Wade’s 1.50m speed track and it was competitive all the way.  Harry aboard Ann Thompson and his father Peter’s 13-year-old Chacco-Blue daughter sped into the top spot with 0.19 seconds to spare over The USA’s Jessica Springsteen, in second on Naomi Van Het Keizershof.

Harry picked up fourth in the WEF Challenge 9, the 14-year-old Casquo Blue providing the steadiest of the double clears in the eight-strong decider, more than three seconds off the winning time.

Jess Mendoza steered the Guidam Sohn x Indoctro nine-year-old Summerhouse into third in the 19-strong jump-off of the 2* Helgstrand Jewellery 1.45m 2.28 seconds off the pace.


James Smith is in the money in Valencia

James Smith was denied a win in Valencia, Spain, in week six on the Moura Tour but claimed second twice in the world ranking classes.

Juno Rose 23 came forward for James in Thursday’s 49-strong 3* 1.45m speed, the 10-year-old Erdento x Nissan Caretano Z mare finishing only 0.41 seconds behind the winner, France’s Lucas Fournier on Cyranan Z.

Twenty-four hours later, James and Lissyegan Luise Royale made their bid in Friday’s 3* 1.45m.  A 13-fence track reduced the 49 starters to 14 for the jump-off and James gave it his best shot on the Luidam x Cruising 13-year-old stallion but was just 0.03 seconds off the pace to take the runner-up position.  France again claimed the win with Thibault Touron in the top spot aboard New Libero One D’Asschaut. 


Scott Brash takes a podium place at The Dutch Masters

Scott Brash was one of only three clears in Saturday’s Audi Prize to claim a podium place at The Dutch Masters in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

Thirty-five competitors came forward over a course which reached up to 1.55m but only three could answer every question to go forward into the jump-off.  But Scott’s luck didn’t carry into round two.  Hello Valentino faltered on a very tight turn and the subsequent refusal and time faults put them on a total of eight faults to finish in third place.  Brazil filled the top two places, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli claiming victory with the sole double clear on Cornest with Yuri Mansur in second on four faults aboard Catch Me Marathon.

Image: Ellen Whitaker and Korlenski. Credit: Mackenzie Clark / Andalucia Sunshine Tour

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