British eventer Francis Whittington bagged his first CCI3* win at Blenheim Horse Trials on Sunday (14 September) riding Easy Target. The duo secured first place ahead of runner-up William Fox-Pitt. Francis also took fifth place riding Fernhill Highlight.

Here are 13 things you might not know this popular and hard-working eventer:

  1. Francis is based in East Sussex with his wife Samantha and their young children Max and Amber.
  2. Born in 1977, he grew up surrounded by horses at his mother’s riding school and enjoyed successes at Pony Club competitions
  3. He secured individual gold and team silver at the pony European Championships in Hasselt, Beligium riding North Down Nova when 16 years old
  4. The eventer is a qualified equine dental technician
  5. Francis received the PricewaterhouseCoopers rider award of £1,000 in 2003. The award
    recognises young riders aged 23-28, who have set up their own eventing business
  6. He completed his first Burghley in 2001 with a clear cross-country on Doonbeg Lady
  7. Francis won the Scottish Open Championships at Thirlestane with Spin Doctor in 2005
  8. He was crowned winner of the CIC*** World Cup qualifier at Burnham Market Horse Trials in 2008 with Sir Percival III
  9. In 2010 Francis was hospitalised with suspected meningitis. He battled back to compete at Badminton just a few weeks later, but suffered an uncharacteristic fall jumping up the staircase when competitively placed after dressage
  10. Putting the illness firmly behind him, Francis bounced back to finish 10th at Burghley 2010 riding Sir Percival III, which was the partnership’s career best.
  11. Francis was a reserve for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics
  12. Francis and Easy Target completed Badminton in 2013 at the horse’s first attempt and came 10th in the Gatcombe Open Championships, but pulled up on the cross-country at Badminton 2014
  13. Known for his quick and stylish cross-country rounds, Francis is a highly respected rider and trainer in this field