Meet Tom Jackson’s groom Chloe Whitelam: ‘Walshy has a bath every morning just to go grazing!’

  • Chloe Whitelam, groom to Tom Jackson at this week’s European Eventing Championships, says the only bad thing about looking after Capels Hollow Drift is his colour.

    “He’s so easy – such a good boy,” says Chloe, mentioning that owners Patricia Davenport, Milly Simmie and Sarah Webb have had “Walshy” from a foal.

    “They looked after him at the start and he’s definitely got that cheeky character in that he’s used to all the attention, he knows that he’s the big boy on the yard, and the most important, he’s so easy and so cuddly.

    “His issue is he’s grey. But to be fair, as far as greys go – I’m going to touch on wood – he’s not too dirty. I bath him every morning just to go hand grazing, but he could be a lot worse than he is. But yes, he has learnt to love a nice bathtime!”

    Chloe says Walshy loves the big occasions.

    “He loves a show, but a little open intermediate at home, he’s not bothered. But you bring him to something like this or Badminton, he loves it. He knows it’s somewhere important when all of his important friends come.

    “He just perks up a bit and that’s a good thing because he’s so chilled out and relaxed. He needs the big occasion. He really laps up all the fuss, especially a week like this when he’s the only one – I’m here for his every need and he loves it. And he loves the crowds and all his owners come and support him. Tom’s family and Sabrina’s [Tom’s wife] dad is here. He knows that they’re all here for him.”

    How Chloe became Tom Jackson’s groom

    Chloe is from Sussex and her parents are not horsey.

    “It was my auntie who bought me a little ride around the countryside for my second birthday,” she says. “It was like, ‘You’re not having a pony until you can drive and look after it’, but I always knew I was going to work with horses.”

    Chloe attended Brinsbury College and then spent four years working in racing for Nick Gifford, Tina Cook’s brother, before taking a job with Izzy Taylor last year and then moving to be a groom for Tom Jackson at the start of November 2022.

    “I enjoyed the four seasons I did in racing and I learned a lot, but long term it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she reflects. “I definitely was more interested in the eventing – I always watched the eventing anyway and I got to know Tina and Isabelle Cook – so when it was time for a change, I was like, right, go and do that.”

    Chloe always enjoyed the riding side and wasn’t sure if she wanted to focus more on that, but as soon as she started to travel as a groom, she knew that was what she wanted to do. She says it is “good fun” working as a groom for Tom Jackson.

    “We’ve got a nice team of girls at home and everyone has their role in the yard and the horses are lovely. We’ve got a really nice set-up with a nice barn and loads of space. Most of us live on site and we all get on – it’s just a nice team atmosphere.”

    Chloe said the team were “buzzing” when they found out Tom had been selected to make his senior championship debut and she is finding the British team atmosphere supportive.

    “I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest. I knew most of the grooms anyway, just from seeing them around, and they’ve kind of given me an idea of what to expect. I know Liz [Brown] anyway, because she’s our vet at home, but team training was the first time I’d met Dickie [Waygood, performance manager] and that lot.

    “It was like, ‘Oh here we are, all the top riders’ – just trying to keep up with them all, all the other grooms, they’ve done it a lot. So it’s quite nice to have them around for support as well. We’ve got our plan and what we do and we stick to that, but it’s also nice to have everyone else’s support. And it’s very teamy in the fact that everyone’s here to support each other and we’re all here as a team.”

    Tom and Capels Hollow Drift kick off their European Championships campaign in the dressage on Friday, at 3.42pm local time (2.42pm British time).

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