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Meet John Whitaker’s handsome home-bred — could he be son Robert’s next superstar?

On a recent visit to Robert Whitaker’s yard, we were really impressed to meet this strapping seven-year-old stallion named Vermento.

This handsome fellow stands over 17hh and was bred at home by Robert’s father John Whitaker. Vermento has his sire Argento’s DNA stamped all over him and looks to have also inherited the jumping genes from his dam, Vicky Van De Grundeval (by Skippy II), who was a top grand prix mare for Robert.

Vermento simply oozes star quality and Robert is very excited about what the future could hold for this youngster.

“I often have to sell the young horses to keep everything going but Vermento was bought from my Dad by Caroline and Stephen Blatchford so I could keep the ride,” says Robert.

“They are fantastic backers, who want to keep horses for Team GB, which is so important, and it’s nice to have someone backing me. You need that. It’s so important because I think the horsepower in Great Britain has been down in the past couple of years and a lot of horses in this country get sold abroad pretty quickly. So it’s great when owners really want to keep the horses, especially for Nations Cups and the Olympics.”

Vermento began his career with John in the saddle, as well as Robert’s sister Joanne, and enjoyed a successful run on the Spanish Sunshine Tour before heading to Germany to contest some further young horse classes.

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Robert first took the reins a year ago and just last week they finished runner-up in a young horse class back in Germany. Could this seven-year-old be Robert’s ticket to the big time?

“I do believe that when I find that elusive superstar I could be the family’s next world number one, but it’s funny how it goes,” says Robert. “The highest ranking I’ve achieved is number 12 and that was over a decade ago when I had Lacroix, Rusedski, Prima Vera and Nicolette — very good horses who all won grands prix. I realise now just how difficult that is to achieve.

“But young horses like Vermento really motivate me.”

You can read the full interview with Robert Whitaker in this week’s Horse & Hound (out now, dated 12 March).

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