Michael Whitaker has come third in the closing FEI World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg and secured his place in the final.
The competition saw some of the world’s best showjumpers battle it out for the last points before the final in Paris at the end of April. Michael produced an incredible double clear to finish third with the British-bred 12-year-old bay mare JB’s Hot Stuff in 37.52sec.
The 57-year-old was chasing the time fast set by Henrick von Eckermann and Mary Lou of 36.89sec. However, he wasn’t quite fast enough.
“I thought I’d done it,” said Michael. “She’s not big, but she has a big heart and she’s fast. Today she wasn’t fast enough, but she always tries her best.”
Last to go was Belgium’s Olivier Phillipaerts who pushed Michael into third position with a time of 37.42. This left Henrick in first place, much to the delight of the home crowd.
“When I saw the jump-off course I knew it would suit Mary Lou,” said the Swedish star. “You can totally trust her, you don’t need to take a pull anywhere, just let her run and use her pace and her long stride, and she was fantastic again today.”
Michael was joined by his nephew Robert Whitaker in the line-up, who came sixth with Catwalk (41.61sec).
It was a good week for Michael and Hot Stuff who also won the 1.50m class on the opening day of the Gothenburg show. Their third place in the World Cup qualifier has secured the British veteran’s place in the final – and he is definitely in it to win it.
“I think I’ve done about 25 finals, so it’s about time I won it!” he said.