Robert Whitaker takes a double at HOYS

Robert Whitaker blew away the opposition to take the Accumulator by storm at Horse of the Year Show on Dekato – a new ride of just one week.

Robert had had to settle for second place in the previous night’s Take Your Own Line to Harriet Nuttall but upped his game on Saturday afternoon to win the Accumulator by 0.26 sec despite a late challenge from an on-form Anthony Condon.

The Upgrade/Stakkato 11-year-old owned by Jessie Drea has been competing with Ireland’s Alexander Butler for the past 12 months. 

 “I’ve only been riding him a week and it was the first time jumping him in the ring yesterday. He’s very quick and ultra-careful, always looking for the next fence.  I think he’s got a big future ahead of him,” commented Robert.

Anthony slotted the Hales family’s Zira VH Kapelhof Z into second with James Wilson on Eskola M in third.  Michael Whitaker steered Strides Hilanasterne into fourth ahead of David Simpson’s Amigo in fifth and Will Fletcher filled sixth place on Everytime Anywhere B.

And Robert featured in the Puissance, too.

Guy Williams and Robert Whitaker gave a class display to clear the big wall at 2.20m (7ft 2in) and share the honours in the Ripon Select Foods Puissance.

An impressive list of International riders including last year’s joint winners Guy and Alfie Bradstock alongside old hands at jumping the Puissance wall Geoff Billington and Robert lined up to entertain the packed house.  And they didn’t disappoint. 

By round five the 12 starters were whittled down to four to face the big wall at 2.20m.  First up Robert Whitaker was riding Major Delacour in his first Puissance but the 11-year-old didn’t turn a hair and cleared the wall in impressive style.

The win was just out of reach for Simon Buckley on Cum Laude 8 and Ireland’s Nano Healy with KMS Clintland and it was all down to Guy Williams.  Could he pull it out the bag and win for a second consecutive year on Caroline Phillips’ Mr Blue Sky UK?

A wave of suspense rippled through the arena as he approached the wall and it never looked in doubt, the big scopey grey got a foot-perfect stride to clear the bricks effortlessly – Guy claimed a joint win at HOYS for the second year running.

The pair were recording the fourth win in the four Puissance classes they have done.

 “He’s a really good horse and he just takes you to the fence. It’s almost like the bigger it gets, the better he jumps. He hasn’t done a Puissance since Olympia last year, it’s not something you want to do too often,” said Guy.  “In a Puissance it is really tempting to attack the fence early on, but I try and hold them until the last round. It’s a fun class to ride in and the audience really enjoy it which makes you want to win. My kids beg me to do this class every year, they just love it. I used to come and watch at HOYS with my mum and dad so it’s great to now be here with my children.”

 Robert was delighted that Major Delacour, owned by Clare Whitaker and Elaine Wood, had won his first ever Puissance:

“I just knew he’d be a good Puissance horse. I’ve been riding him now for about a year and he is a very brave jumper. I couldn’t have asked any more of him tonight, he felt better and better each round, I even think he could have kept going. There’s always a good crowd here on a Saturday night and it’s a good one for them to get behind. I’ll probably do the Puissance at Olympia and see if we can win there too.”

It’s not very often a two-way tie on time happens in showjumping, but I happened for the second time this week at HOYS as Anthony Condon’s late round with SFS Vincomte equalled France’s Geoffroy de Coligny’s time to share the Grandstand Challenge Cup in an exciting jump-off.

Both were on form.  Anthony had already registered an International win in the opening Welcome stakes on Pat Hales’ Veni Vidi Vici/Magic Darco nine-year-old Vincomte and Geoffroy was a winner here at HOYS in 2018.  And it promised to be a hot jump-off with 13 coming forward.

Second out Geffroy set the standard high with Raimondo De Plessis and wasn’t seriously challenged until late-drawn Anthony chased down the time on the Veni Vidi Vici nine-year-old Vincomte and stopped the clock in exactly the same time.

 “I watched Geoffroy’s round and saw he had a naturally fast horse.  My partner Laura said to me ‘I don’t know how you’re going to beat him in the jump off’. I tried my best, but I’ll settle for a tie. The horse [SFS Vincomte] is amazing, he’s so consistent,” said Anthony.

British-based Swede Angelie von Essen’s early round on Cochella finished third ahead of The Netherlands’ Jens van Grunsven on Cika in fourth.  Brits were bunched together on double clears – Harry Charles was fifth on Bambina, James Wilson slotted Imagine De Muze into sixth, Georgia Tame edged into seventh on Jeff Ten Halven and Adrian Speight finished eighth with Millfield Baloney.


Text and Photos © Jumping Around & HOYS/Julian Portch

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