Olympia Thursday:Four wins for the Whitaker family

By: Horse Deals

Olympia Thursday:Four wins for the Whitaker family
Ellen Whitaker and Cortaflex Kanselier
Horse Deals columnist Ellen Whitaker opened Olympia’s international show jumping classes with a stirring performance in the Shelley Ashman, EM Rogers and Equine Risk Management Welcome Stakes.

Ellen’s ride, Cortaflex Kanselier, belied his 17 years with a great round from an early draw to capture the £1,650 prize in this two-phase competition by just 0.14sec from Swiss European team gold medallist Pius Schwizer on Joy’s Mouche.

This wasn’t actually the first jumping class of the show. The previous evening, before the dressage stars raised the bar yet again, competitors from the armed services fought for their own title. This eventually went to Household Cavalry Riding Master Capt Mark Avison on Lochnagar.
Ellen Whitaker also made the 16-horse finale of the day’s major jump-off class — the Christmas Pudding Stakes — but a fence down dropped her and Locarno into eighth spot. The honours stayed in her family though after her Uncle Michael produced a fabulous winning round on GIG Portofino.

This mare has been a great servant for Michael, who rates her one of the best he has ever ridden. She also loves the Olympia atmosphere, as she proved when demoting Nick Skelton (Carlo) and Frenchman Olivier Guillon (Lord de Theize), who had a rare tie for second place.

"It’s great to make a good start. It fills you with confidence for the rest of the show," said Michael.

Last year’s winner Ellen Whitaker used her morning to give the youngsters in the Pony Club Mini Major relay a masterclass, so it was fitting that she and Kanselier gained their second victory of the show when partnering Leonie Aitkenhead from the Brocklesby Hunt branch and Martlets Masters Madam in the class.
Then it was on to the final competition — the Waverley TSB Christmas Speed. Many horses looked as though they needed a round to get used to the arena, but not so Wonderboy. Ben Maher’s giant grey made a big course look tiny en route to what looked an unbeatable time.

But you can never write off Robert Whitaker and from last draw he jumped a perfect pinpoint round on Lacroix to capture the top honours and round off a wonderful day for his family.