April 7, 2008

Robert Whitaker and Lacroix 9 seal their victory in the championship final

The Whitaker family has made a clean sweep of the top placings in the 2008 British Open Show Jumping Championship final, with Robert Whitaker and Lacroix 9 narrowly taking the coveted title from his uncle Michael on Insul Tech Wonami, with cousin William on Arielle third.

It is believed to be a first to have members of one family take the top three placings of an international event. In the same event Robert's father John was fifth on Casino, and his cousin Ellen was placed ninth.

Ireland's Shane Breen was best of the Irish to place fourth on World Cruise, edging out Robert Whitaker's father John on Casino. Robert's cousin Ellen was ninth.

The Whitakers dominated the Championship leader board from the opening leg on Thursday and going into yesterday's final the famous five were all ranked in the top six. However, Ellen had three fences down and John two, which moved them down the list to 9th and 5th. Robert remained in outstanding form with just one fence down in the final jump off. This scooped him the title with a 2.5 point lead in front of Michael and 4 points ahead of his younger cousin William, who at 18 years old was the youngest Whitaker in the competition. Robert, who was the inaugural champion in 2003, has now won the competition twice and will this year take home £25,250 for winning the Championship title.

"It feels great to win the Championship again," Robert said. "And even better that my family are beside me on the podium! I look forward to future family victories and of course, next year's British Open."

• The PCA easibed plus Futura Final saw promising young rider, Nicole Pavitt (18) beating some of the UK's finest show jumpers to become the first Champion of this new class. Leading brand of horse bedding, easibed, joined with the Premier Centres Association (PCA) and the British Open to devise this national show jumping competition that has proved very popular with competitors and spectators. Eight of the 23 riders in the class went through to the jump-off where Nicole cleared the round in the fastest time of 31.8 seconds to take first place on Maestro De Rend Peine and also scoop 2nd place on her mother's other horse, Amaryliss Van De Heffink in 40 seconds. Dale Burnham jumped an impressive round on Cointreau Z coming third in a time of 45.13 seconds.

• British riders dominated the top positions in The British Speed Stakes, taking first, second and third. The triumphant winner was Geoff Luckett riding Jo Pasetti's Robin. Geoff produced what proved to be an unbeatable clear in 48.32 seconds. Hot on his tail was Ellen Whitaker and Cortaflex Kanselier, clocking up a time of 48.56. William Whitaker and Sarlino took third place, in another clear of 49.19 seconds.

• Other results from the final day of the British Open included a win for Arena Polo team Vinopolis who beat Team T-Mobile by 33 goals to 32. Richard Griffiths with Titch and The Taliman had the quickest time of just 44.32 seconds in the Osborne Refrigerators Scurry Racing Final. The British Open Barrel Racing Challenge, which has thrilled the crowds with their twisting turns and fast sprints, was won by Trevor Holroyd riding Giska in 18.75 seconds.