John Whitaker produced a vintage performance to win the Horse Radar Stakes and ensure a scintillating start to day three at Horse of the Year Show. The 59-year-old Yorkshireman, who first competed at HOYS during the early 1970s, delivered a masterclass on Lord of Arabia (Cassini II x Carry) to thrill a bumper audience in Birmingham's LG Arena. The Huddersfield-based star was drawn last to go among a 29-strong field, and he shaved more than a second off Nicole Pavitt's time with Victor Blue (My Bjorn W x Rebel II Z) to triumph.
"I am still enjoying it and I can still win on the day," John said. "It was one of those rounds that just went completely to plan. I was last to go, so I knew what I had to do. Every turn really came off perfectly, and we were quick in between the fences. He jumped really carefully and was listening to me. He really helped me today. I thought it would be quite difficult to beat Nicole, but everything came off and I am delighted."
And HOYS has played an influential role in his stellar showjumping career, with John recalling: "The first year I came here I was 16. I would say that I have been here more than 40 times. Horse of the Year Show, for me, was where it all started. I remember watching it as a kid on the television every night after the news and that's what got me into it."
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