World of Showjumping
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John Whitaker and Sharid win The Santa Stakes in London

Monday, 18 December 2023
CSI5*-W London International Horse Show 2023

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. John Whitaker and Sharid, winners of The Santa Stakes in London. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ.


Edited press release from London International Horse Show



The CSI5*-W 1.50m Santa Stakes continued the world-class action at ExCeL London on Sunday evening. And with four of the six riders through to the jump-off representing Great Britain, the expectant crowd was hopeful of another home win following Ben Maher's triumph in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ earlier in the afternoon. 

First into the arena to contest the shortened course was Scott Brash and Hello Mr President (Comme d'Api v/d Hacienda Z x unknown, bred by Bvba Euro Equitation), with the British rider looking to go one better than his second placed finish in the World Cup™. However, with four faults he left the door wide open to those who followed. On a high from his FEI Jumping World Cup™ win, Ben Maher followed Brash into the arena, but he too picked up faults in the attempt to set an unbeatable time.

Crowd favourite, John Whitaker – who during the course of his career has competed in 39 major championships, winning 24 medals – showed his experience to jump the first clear and set the time to beat to 35.98 seconds riding Sharid (Toulon x Vancouleurs, bred by Jean-Paul Rius). Matt Sampson followed aboard MGH Candy Girl (Sligo Candy Boy x Cruising, bred by Timothy Kelleher), with a fast round proving that the time could be beaten, but picking up four faults along the way.

The first of the international contenders, Kendra Claricia Brinkop riding Ma Belle (Ugano Sitte x Bayard d'Elle, bred by Gust Brosens), looked like she had done enough to take the lead from Whitaker, however knocked the final fence. It was left to Lorenzo de Luca and Violino Il Palazetto (Verdi TN x Jasper, bred by Maria Rosaria Il Palazzetto di Marzotto) to dampen British spirits, however the famously quick Italian was another to accrue faults in his efforts to beat the winning time, giving 68-year-old Whitaker a popular victory ahead of Brash in second, De Luca in third, Sampson in fourth and Brinkop in fifth.

Speaking after the class, Whitaker said “It’s fantastic, the crowd were unbelievable and it feels good to beat these young speed merchants. My horse jumped amazingly and I’m glad I’m still able to beat them on my day. I played it a bit safe and it paid off – I managed to put the pressure on and it worked out.”



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