If you’ve ever suffered brain freeze mid-way through a jumping class, cross-country course or dressage test and wondered where on earth you and your horse are meant to go next, you’ll have complete sympathy with Olympic showjumping legend John Whitaker at Royal Windsor Horse Show on Saturday (14 May).
John and the classy gelding Sharid had set off confidently for the prestigious 1.55m CSI5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup. But at fence three, one of two Rolex fences on course, poor John locked on to the wrong one – only realising his error after it was too late.
They cleared the towering vertical in style, but that was little consolation as the bell was rung to signal John’s unfortunate elimination.
“My horse jumped good – over the first three fences!” said John after returning to the collecting ring far earlier than he’d intended.
“The Rolex fences were side by side and I realised what I’d done as soon as I took off. There’s not much you can do about it at that point!”
John admitted he’d also taken the wrong course in Bonheiden once last year but fortunately for his legion of fans, rider error is a very a rare occurrence amidst an otherwise exemplary career spanning nearly 50 years in which the 66-year-old Yorkshireman has won a raft of championship medals and grands prix wins.
We’ve all been there – but maybe not when there’s been over €6,000 in prize-money at stake.
The prestigious King’s Cup class was won by Holly Smith and the great Fruselli after an epic three-way battle for top honours.
Five-star international jumping at Royal Windsor Horse Show continues on Sunday, the fourth and final day, where John will team up with his top horse Unick Du Francport in a bid for victory in the show’s feature class, the Rolex grand prix.
- Don’t miss all the action from Royal Windsor Horse Show with Horse & Hound, both online and in next week’s issue of the magazine, in the shops on Thursday 19 May.
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Credit: Peter Nixon
Credit: Peter Nixon