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Happy Birthday Michael Whitaker — 60 today! 11 amazing moments from his career…

He’s one of the greatest riders of all time and today (Tuesday, 17 March), Michael Whitaker celebrates his 60th birthday (no, we can’t quite believe it either…).

“I was supposed to be celebrating with the family but I’m not even sure that’s going to be happening now,” says Michael of his somewhat curtailed celebrations due to current restrictions from coronavirus.

But to mark the big day, we’ve trawled through the archives to bring you 11 amazing moments in Michael’s phenomenal career.

1. Back in the day

Michael has enjoyed a career spanning well over 40 years — he’s pictured here at the Everest Championships riding Brother Scott in the 1970s.

2. Gold!

In 2013, he and the great Viking helped Great Britain win the gold medal — his 15th championship accolade — at the European Championships in Herning, Denmark, alongside team-mates Scott Brash, Ben Maher and William Funnell.

3. Hickstead Derby four-timer

Michael Whitaker and Owen Gregory by Mr and Mrs Christopher Cory (chairman and managing director W D and H D Wills)

Michael is one of the elite group of riders to have won the Hickstead Derby four times — in 1980 with Owen Gregory (pictured) before securing a hat-trick between 1991 and 1993 with the amazing Monsanta.

4. Ta-dah!

<p>left to right: Geoff Billington, Michael Whitaker, Nick Skelton, John Whitaker in 1991</p>

Michael as you’ve never seen him before — along with his pals Geoff Billington, Nick Skelton and brother John — entertain the crowds with their Chippendales routine at Olympia Horse Show.

5. Team glory

British team winners. L-R Robert Smith, Michael Whitaker, Nick Skelton, Scott Brash. Dignitaries unknown other than Rob Hoekstra (right with trophy). FEI Nations Cup

He’s been a team stalwart throughout his career and in 2005 Michael (this time riding Portofino 63) was part of the winning Nations Cup team at Dublin Horse Show, lifting the prestigious Aga Khan Trophy.

6. Keeping it in the family

No start list is complete without at least a couple of Whitakers on it and at the London leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour in London in 2018 he was up against his brother John and nephews William and Robert.

7. Great horsepower

Michael Whitaker on El Wee Widge

Michael has enjoyed some tremendous equine partnerships over the years and in recent years has enjoyed success with El Wee Widge.

8. Olympic odyssey

Left to right: Michael Whitaker (reserve), Malcolm Pyrah, Joe Turi, David Broome and Nick Skelton, the Great Britain Olympic Showjumping Team, at Hickstead on 9th August 1988.  (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images.)

In 1988, Michael Whitaker was reserve for the Olympic showjumping team, pictured with squad members Malcolm Pyrah, Joe Turi, David Broome and Nick Skelton.

9. Eye on the prize

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Göteborg Michael Whitaker (GBR) - JB's Hot Stuff PhotoFEI/ Arnd Bronkhorst

There aren’t many grand prix trophies without Michael’s name on them — he’s pictured here jumping in Gothenburg on JB’s Hot Stuff.

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10. Good times

Great Britain's Chef d'Equipe, Derek Ricketts accepts the Aga Khan Challenge Trophy from President Mary McAleese as riders William Funnel on Cortaflex Mondriaan (left) and Michael Whitaker on Portofino 63 (right) look on at the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show, Friday August 5 2005, at the Royal Dublin Society Arena, Dublin.

Celebrating on top of the podium after another Aga Khan win in 2005, led by chef d’equipe Derek Ricketts.

11. And finally…

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

One of H&H’s favourite images of all time — Michael enjoys a joke with Geoff Billington, Nick Skelton and brother John Whitaker ahead of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

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