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Julien Anquetin and John Whitaker with wins in Fontainebleau

Friday, 21 April 2023
CSI4* Fontainebleau 2023

Photo © PSV/J. Morel John Whitaker and Equine America Unick du Francport won Friday's CSI4* 1.50m Prix CWD in Fontainebleau. Photo © PSV/J. Morel.

The French riders dominated on home soil as the CSI4* Le Printemps des Sports Equestres – host to the French Master Pro Championships – kicked off in Fontainebleau, France, on Thursday, with Julien Anquetin topping the 1.50m Prix Ville de Fontainebleau. On Friday, however, the French had to see themselves beaten in the CSI4* 1.50m Prix CWD – by no other than living legend John Whitaker. 

In the Prix Ville de Fontainebleau, which counted for the world ranking, home hero Julien Anquetin (FRA) rode Cesus de Fougnard (Tlaloc M x Calvaro) to the win, ahead of Nicolas Deseuzes (FRA) and Eldorado Sunheup Z (Eldorado van de Zeshoek x Quartz du Chanu) — with 2.85 seconds separating the two riders. Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) and Ilex VP (Diamant de Semilly x Darco) took the third place – a bit over three seconds behind the winning time. Olivier Perreau (FRA) and GL Events Venezia d’Aiguilly (Diamant de Semilly x Quick Star) finished fourth, followed by Willem Greve (NED) and Highway M TN (Eldorado van de Zeshoek x Chellano) in fifth.

In Friday’s Prix CWD, also a class counting for the world ranking, John Whitaker (GBR) showed everyone that age is just a number when he took the victory aboard Equine America Unick du Francport (Zandor Z x Helios de la Cour II). As one of six riders in the jump-off, Whitaker piloted his 15-year-old gelding to the quickest time: 36.72 seconds. Max Kühner (AUT) and Up Too Jacco Blue (Chacco-Blue x ARD VDL Douglas) followed as runners-up in 37.27 seconds, while the third place went to Wilma Hellström (SWE) and Quinti von Hof (Quicklij B Z x HRH Colombardo) with a time of 38.53 seconds in the jump-off. Then followed two French riders in fourth and fifth; Roger Yves Bost on Delph de Denat HDC (Air Jordan x Tlaloc M), and Jean Luc Mourier on Kielekoo Van T&L (Carabas vd Wateringhoeve x Canadian River). 

"First of all, I must say I'm very happy with winning," John Whitaker said. "You know, despite my age, you never get too used to winning. Because in fact in this sport, you lose more often than you win. Today's course was tough: only six couples finished clear out of seventy starters, which is not very many. It was a technical course, which also had to be completed in a short time, which makes it more difficult. I think that the biggest difficulty was the time allowed, which means you have to take risks. The triple combination was difficult on a difficult turn, but actually people were making faults everywhere, which is a sign of a fair course. As regards to the jump-off, first of all, it's quite difficult to win in the first place. So, I had a plan in my mind what I wanted to do, and I was worried about Max Kühner, because he's been in top form this last year. Finally, it was one of those rounds where everything went to plan. I made a plan, and it doesn't always go to plan, but today everything was smooth, quick and controlled. It's a nice feeling when it goes to plan!"

"Equine America Unick du Francport has had a short rest. He did quite a lot of shows last year, and this year I did the Global Tour in Doha at the end of February. Since Doha, this is his first show. So, he is fresh and he will take part in the Grand Prix on Sunday. He will have a day off tomorrow," Whitaker continued. "As for my long-term plans and the Olympic Games next year, I don't know yet... You know, this year I'm 68. Ten years ago, if someone had told me I still had the chance to go to the Olympics, I wouldn't have believed it. So, it's not really on my mind. But if the horse is jumping like today, then anything is possible!"  

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