It's double delight at Olympia for William Whitaker and Mikey Pender
William Whitaker and Mikey Pender had Olympia’s sell-out crowd on their feet as they cleared the big red wall in the final round to share the honours in the Cayenne Puissance.
Ten riders originally started but in the end just the the two stylish young riders went into the fifth and final round alongside last year’s joint winner Guy Williams to face the imposing wall standing at 7ft 2in (2.18m). It was the first Puissance for Rushy Marsh Farm’s 10-year-old RMF Charly and William felt the tension but they cleared the bricks in style.
“I was a bit apprehensive, but the crowd lifts you and it feels as though you have another person on your back,” he said. “I’m over the moon with the horse. He’s got a nice active canter and he just got better and better. He’s quite a character at home – a right Charlie in fact!”
Ireland’s Mikey Pender, 20 – who learned to ride at his parents’ County Kilkenny riding school – also cleared the wall with panache to join William in the spotlight. And his ride the 12-year-old stallion Hearton Du Bois Halleux – who rocketed Mikey to prominence when winning the Hickstead Derby earlier this year – showed his versatility by clearing the wall here.
“It’s a pleasure to ride a horse like that,” he said. “It makes your job a lot easier. Everything you ask him he’ll do. He was a bit tense at first, but then he improved with each round.”
Guy Williams was set to join the pair but Mr Blue Sky UK took a brick out of the wall to drop them to third.
Making an interesting fact, the top three are all Hickstead Derby winners - Mikey in 2019, Guy in 2010 with Slip Two Ramiro and William won in 2016 on Glenavadra Brilliant.
Britain’s two top ladies went to battle from the off with Holly Smith getting the show off to a flying start with a win in the Welcome Stakes by just 0.03 sec over Laura Renwick.
Twenty-eight contended this 1.40m two-phase class with Holly edging ahead by a fraction on the Flipper D’Elle/Darco eight-year-old Flipper Darco UK. Laura had to settle for second on the Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve 13-year-old Bintang II pushing Germany’s Michael Jung into third on Dante RZ. Anthony Condon was close behind for fourth aboard the Hales family’s Zira VH Kapelhof Z and Ben Maher was seventh on Gakhir.
William was in the mix in the feature class of the day, the 1.55m Santa Stakes, but had to settle for second. Ten of the 19 starters reached the jump-off with Holly setting the pace on her European Team Bronze medal winner Hearts Destiny but was soon pushed off the top spot by William aboard RMF Echo. However, an exceptionally tight turn to the penultimate fence gave Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and the 11-year-old Important De Muze the advantage at the halfway stage. Ben Maher slotted F One USA into third ahead of Holly in fourth while four faults dropped Harry Charles and Borsato to seventh.
“I didn’t get to see William’s round but I know my horse is quite careful and just went as fast as I could, which proved good enough today,” said Darragh.
Guy Williams pulled out all the stops in the 28-strong Musto Inside Edge 1.50m speed stakes with the 12-year-old Cupido and held the lead despite several challenges but was eventually beaten into second by Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs on Chica B Z by 0.36 sec. Holly eased Denver into third and Laura finished sixth on Dublin V.
“It’s really nice to be here, it doesn’t feel like hard work and it’s a great Christmas feeling. Chica is quite experienced and is used to making tight turns so I didn’t have to do too much today,” said Martin.
It was also a great night for young rider Emily Moffitt, who was presented with the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy, an award for the British under-25 rider who has shown the greatest potential for future success in that calendar year.
The Aztec Diamond pony club mini-major promised a fiercely fought contest and did not disappoint as young pony club members joined the elite showjumper in an exciting pairs relay. Essex Hunt North pony club member Laila Ramaci joined forces with Norway’s Karina Hovland to emerge as the eventual winners by 0.26 sec.
Laila, 9, was very modest about her round with Dinky, but Karina was quick to offer praise to her young partner, saying “Actually you were really rather quick to the last!”
Charlotte McCraken with Uqurm D’Emery joined Michael Jung on Dante RZ to take second ahead of Hollie Gerken on Dimples Dilema and Laura Renwick with Anvil’s Every Little Helps in third. Tommy Goody on Hardwickview Yen Man teamed up with Laura Kraut and Confu to take fourth.
Text © Jumping Around/Photos © Ashley Neuhof/rEvolution/HPower