‘It’s hard to get to the top of our sport and to stay there’: some of the world’s best name their favourite riders of the decade

  • In the week we invite you to nominate a rider for the Uvex Helmets Professional Rider of the Decade Award for this year’s H&H Awards, we asked some of the world’s best who they think has been a leading light in the riding world over the past 10 years.

    Continued below…

    Nominate your Uvex Helmets Professional Rider of the Decade Award

    This has been an extraordinary year, with so much changing in the face of Covid-19. But we are thrilled to announce the H&H Awards, again in partnership with NAF, are back, and nominations are now open. One of the categories is the Uvex Helmets Professional Rider of the Decade Award. We want to know who is your hero rider of this decade — the one who has achieved huge feats in their sporting field. If there is a rider that you would like to nominate for this award, put them forward here.

    Gemma Tattersall — event rider

    “I have three riders who I think have all been phenomenal in their respective disciplines. Firstly, Charlotte Dujardin as I’ve read her book and learnt that she’s built up her career from basically nothing and has worked really hard to get where she is now. Secondly, Scott Brash, as again he has built up his success from not a great deal to start with — he is a real natural talent and seems to be very kind with his horses. Last, but by no means least, Piggy March (neé French). Although there are obvbiously other amazing event riders, Piggy went through really hard times in the first half of the decade and she is now basically the world’s leading competitor. I really hope she gets the opportunities she deserves moving forwards to win some medals.”

    William Whitaker — showjumper

    “For me it’s always been John and Michael Whitaker (pictured). It’s perhaps a bit cliched because they’re my uncles, but still to this day I have so much respect for each of them. I really appreciate how difficult it is to get to the top of our sport and to stay there — and it’s not like they’ve had a top owner who’s kept pumping money in either, they’ve had to run the business and keep selling good horses — so for them to have done so well and for so long is amazing.”

    Spencer Wilton — dressage rider

    Carl Hester for what he represents as a whole. He is obviously a phenomenally talented rider, but it’s what he does for the sport behind the scenes. What he’s done for dressage in this country, over the past 25 years and certainly in the last 10 years, has escalated us to being a really well respected dressage nation, up there with the best of them. The knowledge he’s passing on through his training has a ripple effect over time, and a phenomenal effect on the sport. If it wasn’t for Carl I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, or Charlotte either.

    Graham Fletcher — H&H showjumping columnist

    “John Whitaker because in the decades of his heyday, he won big grands prix on horses that shouldn’t have been able to win. For that reason he’ll never be bettered. Nick Skelton’s greatest achievement, winning the Olympic gold medal, was the crowning glory in an unbelievable career. John and “Skelly” had very different approaches — John got the best out of whatever horse he had or whatever people sent him, whereas Skelly was always: ‘I know I’m the best, match me up with the best horse and I’ll win you the classes’ — but in their own way they’ve both been tremendously successful.”

    Sam Roberts — showing producer

    “Charlotte Dujardin would jump into my head. What she has achieved so far in her career would be the dream for anyone in a lifetime. I think showing people have a vested interest in her due to her background. That freestyle she did in London with Valegro made my hairs stand up, just phenomenal.

    “Scott Brash is absolute class. I bet if I gave him one of my horses who wouldn’t jump he’d get it to jump. He performs so consistently with so many top horses.

    “Jayne Ross is not only the nicest person but her horses are immaculately produced. Every time I watch her I just want to have a go on the horse she’s riding. There are so many good people in showing but Jayne’s consistency is something else; to win the HOYS supreme seven times is beyond. She always has time for everyone and is a role model for us all to look up to.”

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