CSI 4*

John Whitaker Ages Like Fine Wine in France Winning the €52,600 CWD Prix CSI 4* at Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau, France – April 21, 2023 – Rolling back the years, the British rider John Whitaker (GBR), 68 years old, won the main class of the day in the CSI 4* competition, the Prix CWD. Riding his Selle Français Equine America Unick du Francport (Zandor Z x Helios de La Cour II), the legendary rider completed the fastest of the four double clear rounds in a jump-off involving six couples.

Max Kuhner (AUT) & Up Too Jacco Blue

In second place, Austria’s Max Kuhner (AUT), the world number 11, riding Up Too Jacco Blue (Chacco-Blue x Ard VDL Douglas), finished 45/100ths behind the winners.

Wilma Hellstrom (SWE) & Quinti von Hof

Sweden’s Wilma Hellström (SWE), riding Quinti von hof (Quicklij x HRH Colombardo), was third, and local rider Roger-Yves Bost (FRA), Olympic champion with the French team in 2016, was fourth, riding his stallion Delph de Denat HDC.

Winner’s Circle – John Whitaker (GBR)

“First of all, I must say I’m very happy with winning. 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 sign of a fair course. As regards the jump-off, first of all, it’s quite difficult to win from 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 Francp 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. 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 in my mind. But if the horse is jumping like today, then anything is possible!”  

Final Results – €52,600 CWD Prix CSI 4*

1) John Whitaker (GBR) & Equine America Unick Du Francport – 0 / 0 – 36.7

2) Max Kühner (AUT) & Up Too Jacco Blue – 0 / 0 – 37.27

3) Wilma Hellström (SWE) & Quinti von Hof – 0 / 0 – 38.53

Source: Press Release by Eloïse Lépine for Les Printemps des Sports Equestres

Photos: © PSV Photo / J. Morel