Whitaker stays positive on London dream despite injury setback to Peppermill
John Whitaker has not given up hope of competing in a sixth Olympic Games next year despite his top horse Peppermill suffering another major injury setback.
Whitaker opened London Olympia”s showjumping programme by finishing second in the Horse Deals Christmas Pudding Stakes aboard Dazzle II.
And while 14-year-old Peppermill has little chance of featuring in the Olympics selection shake-up due to tendon trouble, Whitaker could still call on his talented second-string Argento.
In action: Laura Bechtolsheimer riding Mistral Hojris at Olympia on Thursday
“I don”t think there is any realistic chance of Peppermill being fit (for London),” said the 55-year-old Yorkshireman. “It is a tendon problem in the opposite leg to the one he injured last year. It is one of those things, and he is basically out for a year.
“If you had asked me this time last year about (Olympic selection for) Argento I would have definitely said no.
“He had a small injury, but he is fit and sound now. I am going to give him a chance, and we will have to see how he progresses.”
British showjumping chief Rob Hoekstra will select a four-strong team for London, and Whitaker faces stiff competition from the likes of Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Michael Whitaker, Robert Smith and Scott Brash.
Horse play: The London International Horse Show is underway in west London
Whitaker, though, showed his class as he ran Irish winner Dermott Lennon close during a 14-horse jump-off in front of a bumper afternoon audience at Olympia.
Former world champion Lennon and Loughview Lou-Lou clocked 31.82 seconds, with Whitaker second in a time of 33.13, Germany”s Marcus Ehning third (33.43) and American Laura Kraut fourth (34.17).
Whitaker added: “The horse is very competitive. She is always good, and you know you have got a chance with her.”
The Olympia action continues later tonight with the Christmas Speed Stakes, when Whitaker will be a among a 25-strong field on Casino, the horse he is aiming at Sunday”s Rolex World Cup qualifier.