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:
- Francis is based in East Sussex with his wife Samantha and their young children Max and Amber.
- Born in 1977, he grew up surrounded by horses at his mother’s riding school and enjoyed successes at Pony Club competitions
- He secured individual gold and team silver at the pony European Championships in Hasselt, Beligium riding North Down Nova when 16 years old
- The eventer is a qualified equine dental technician
- 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
- He completed his first Burghley in 2001 with a clear cross-country on Doonbeg Lady
- Francis won the Scottish Open Championships at Thirlestane with Spin Doctor in 2005
- He was crowned winner of the CIC*** World Cup qualifier at Burnham Market Horse Trials in 2008 with Sir Percival III
- 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
- 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.
- Francis was a reserve for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics
- 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
- Known for his quick and stylish cross-country rounds, Francis is a highly respected rider and trainer in this field