How to keep the father-in-law happy! George Whitaker wins at London GCT with horse belonging to his fiancée’s dad

  • Great Britain is off to a flying start on day one of the London Global Champions Tour at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, claiming a winning double in the opening two-star classes.

    The national anthem first rang out for Georgina Round and Musicmaker in the 1.15m Martin Collins Enterprise Challenge before George Whitaker took the spoils in class two, the Hyde Park Stables 1.25m riding his father-in-law Martin Wood’s brilliantly named eight-year-old Peanut.

    The pair produced an electric round in what was a high-octane two-phase competition, with George crossing the line a second faster than runner-up Joe Clayton on the 13-year-old Jenson QR, while Olivia Sponer finished third on Crazy Girl.

    “It was fast, but good fun!” said George on day one of the London Global Champions Tour. “When I walked the course I knew it was going to be quick, but I had no idea it was going to be as fast as that – I realised as soon as we saw the first few go. There were a lot of good horses in it.

    “Peanut has jumped big classes but is probably the quickest out of the two horses I have here, so this was definitely the right class for him.

    “They’re both only eight-year-olds. Peanut felt fantastic though and I knew he wasn’t going to have a fence down – that’s one of the best feelings and you don’t often get that. Just to have that sort of confidence is a great feeling coming in to the ring and you always get that with him.”

    George has high hopes for the son of Barrichello, who is owned by Martin Wood, father of his fiancée Michaela.

    “He’s won three national grands prix already and he was double clear and seventh in the two-star grand prix at Keysoe, so he has jumped big classes,” said George.

    “Because he is only eight, I didn’t want to keep pushing him and pushing him though. He’s such a talented horse but he is very careful.

    “I thought I’d jump this class and see how he felt, but I wanted to get a win under my belt too!”

    Talking about riding for his father-in-law, George said: “He doesn’t put pressure on me at all, he’s a fantastic owner, as well as a fantastic father-in-law!”

    George and Michaela are set to tie the knot in September, after many false starts due to the pandemic.

    “Fourth time lucky hopefully!” he said. “We were originally supposed to be getting married in July last year but Covid stopped it, so hopefully it’s looking better this time around.”

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