A Who’s Who of Whitakers: how well do you know the famous showjumping family?

  • The Whitaker family of showjumpers has been the backbone of the sport for nearly half a century.

    The famous sporting dynasty stems from the late Donald Whitaker, a Yorkshire farmer, and his wife Enid Whitaker, a keen horsewoman, and it is through their four sons, John, Michael, Ian and Steven, that the legendary Whitaker showjumping name was made.

    Senior stalwarts John and Michael Whitaker are two of the most successful riders of all time, but there are currently three generations of the Whitaker family making their name in showjumping.

    With so many members of the Whitaker family regularly competing – there are nine at this year’s Horse of the Year Show alone – we couldn’t blame you for asking, “Is John Whitaker the uncle of Ellen Whitaker?”, “Are Joe Whitaker and Robert Whitaker cousins?” or “Who is William Whitaker’s dad?” So we thought it was time to bring you a Who’s Who of the famous Whitaker family showjumping dynasty.

    Equestrianism : Show Jumping: British Olympic team members L to R Michael Whitaker, Geoff Billington, Nick Skelton & John Whitaker.

    John Whitaker, married to Clare Whitaker

    John Whitaker (born 1955) is the oldest of the four brothers and has been at the top of the sport for nearly five decades, winning 21 championship medals, including with the mighty Milton. He and wife Clare have three children, Louise, Robert and Joanne Whitaker, all of whom compete internationally.

    Louise Whitaker
    John and Clare’s eldest daughter Louise (born 1980) is now a highly respected producer of young horses, married to Ian Turner with two children, Harvey, seven, and four-year-old Sienna.

    Robert Whitaker
    John and Clare’s son Robert (born 1983) regularly competes at five-star level showjumping and is a British team rider. He is married to Kate and they have two young daughters, Evie and Millie, both of whom are keen riders.

    Joanne Whitaker
    The youngest of John and Clare’s children, Joanne (born 1987) is also a hugely talented rider, producing many top horses in their early years.

    Steven Whitaker, married to Carole Whitaker

    Steven Whitaker (born 1957) also competed in showjumping to international level and now runs an equestrian business with son Joe. He and Carole have four children, Ellen, Joe, Thomas and Donald Whitaker, all of whom are international showjumpers.

    Ellen Whitaker
    Steven and Carole’s eldest daughter Ellen Whitaker (born 1986) is a regular member of the British showjumping team and has made her name winning some of the world’s biggest grands prix. She has two sons, Harry and Frankie, with her former partner Antonio Marinas Soto.

    Joe Whitaker
    Steven and Carole’s second child Joe (born 1988) has also been jumping on British teams, as well as riding as a National Hunt jockey. He is married to Fiona and they have three children, Sophia, Stevie Joe and Emily.

    Thomas Whitaker
    The third of Steven and Carole’s children, Tom Whitaker (born 1990) runs a business with his partner Sunniva Sunde buying, selling and producing horses as well as competing internationally.

    Donald Whitaker
    The youngest of Steven and Carole’s four children, Donald Whitaker (born 1992) is named after his grandfather, the late patriarch of the Whitaker clan, and he is making a real name for himself on the international circuit, currently based in Germany with girlfriend German team rider Nicola Pohl.

    Whitaker family showjumping - Michael's wedding in 2013

    The Whitaker family celebrating Michael’s wedding to Melissa in 2013

    Michael Whitaker, married to Melissa Whitaker

    Michael Whitaker (born 1960) is the third son of Enid and Donald, following in the footsteps of his oldest brother John to become one of the greatest showjumpers in the world, winning 15 championship medals and the Hickstead Derby four times. He and Melissa have three children, Jack, Molly and Katy.

    Jack Whitaker
    Jack Whitaker (born 2001) is one of the brightest young stars in showjumping, having won individual gold at the pony European Championships and he is representing the Whitaker family showjumping dynasty as a regular competitor on the five-star circuit.

    William Whitaker walking the course at Hickstead with Oliver and Isabella.

    William Whitaker walking the course at Hickstead with Oliver and Isabella.

    Ian Whitaker, married to Alison Whitaker

    Although he’s a knowledgeable horseman, Ian is the only brother who followed the farming route rather than becoming a professional showjumper. He and his wife Alison have nevertheless passed on the jumping genes as all three of their sons, William, George and James, are involved in the sport.

    William Whitaker
    The oldest son of Ian and Alison, William (born 1989) is another member of the Whitaker family to represent Great Britain on showjumping teams, as well as jumping to victory in grands prix and he has won the Hickstead Derby. He is married to Elisabeth Whitaker and they have three children, Isabella, Oliver and Evelyn.

    George Whitaker
    William’s younger brother George (born 1992) is another successful showjumper from the family competing at both national and international level. He is married to fellow showjumper Michaela Whitaker with two children and the couple run Dallamires Stables together.

    James Whitaker
    The youngest son of Ian and Alison, Jim (born 1997) is a regular winner on the national circuit, producing some top class horses from his base in Yorkshire.

    It’s quite some family – no wonder the Whitakers have become showjumping royalty!

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