Fourteen-year-old Jack Whitaker finished off a fantastic week for British showjumping yesterday (21 August), when he added the individual gold medal at the pony European championships in Vilhelmsborg, Denmark, to that won by Nick Skelton in Rio de Janeiro.
Jack, whose father Michael Whitaker was part of Britain’s Olympic team and travelled to Denmark in time to watch his son’s triumph, was riding 12-year-old Belgian-bred Elando Van De Roshoeve.
He added his individual victory to the team bronze he won two days earlier with team-mates Allana Clutterbuck (Sultan Du Bary), Hallie Lunn (Javas Alun) and Robert Murphy (Rainbows Mocha).
British showjumping performance manager Di Lampard said: “What a week it’s been! From one end of the scale to the other — Nick Skelton winning Olympic gold to Jack Whitaker winning pony gold. The future’s looking great.”
Jack’s clear round in the second round of the individual final was enough to give him the gold medal by just one fault from The Netherlands’ Rowen van de Mheen (Quaprice D’Astree), with German rider Antonia Ercken two faults behind to take the bronze on Crazy Hardbreaker.
“My pony had been going well, but he just felt different this week. It was as though he knew how important it was,” said Jack.
“I couldn’t watch the last one to go and I didn’t know I had won until Dad burst out crying!”
The pony event team climbed from bronze medal position after cross-country to take silver yesterday (21 August).
The British team of Saffron Cresswell (Cuffesgrange Little Ric), Anya Kolleth (Drop the Subject), Eloise Carter (Alfie XI) and Molly Faulkner (Sycamore Lad) finished on a total of 153.7 penalties, with Germany on 135.6 and France taking bronze with 161.9.
Chairman of eventing pony squad selectors Gary Parsonage said: “It was a fabulous week of competition resulting in a very well deserved team silver.
“It was a really harmonious and tightly bonded team effort throughout, which gave every rider the opportunity to achieve personal bests every day.
“The showjumping was very tense and exciting with the British girls holding their nerve to climb from bronze overnight to a final silver medal. Having the very last fence down, Saffron Cresswell was very unlucky not to finish in bronze medal position after having the very last fence down, as she had been in third place individually after the dressage and cross-country phases.”
Saffron finished fifth individually, with Anya eighth, Eloise 14th and Molly 28th.
Individual rider Connie Warde-Aldam (Craig Mor Tom) finished in 10th place.
The dressage team finished just off the podium in fourth place, behind winners Germany, with Denmark in silver and the Netherlands in bronze.
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Lara Kuropatwa (Le Chiffre) was the highest-placed British rider on 70.744%, with Sophie Taylor (Madam’s Miss Maria) in 14th on 68.795%, Isobel Lickley (Gigolo) 25th on 67.256% and Maddy Whelan (Ode to Shannon) 28th on 66.923%.
Maddy and Ode to Shannon scored 71.854% for 9th place in the individual test, which was won by German Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel (Massmiliano), who also took gold in the kur.
For the full report on the pony European championships, see the 1 September issue of H&H.