‘I didn’t expect to win that!’: borrowed horse comes up trumps for John Whitaker at London Horse Show

  • Friday’s CSI5* two-phase jumping class at London International Horse Show was won by early-drawn John Whitaker riding Paul Barker’s talented home-bred stallion Green Grass.

    “I definitely didn’t expect to win that!” said John after producing a lightning-quick round on the nine-year-old son of Luidam. “I thought I could finish in the first five, but when you’re first to go you usually expect to get beaten.”

    Green Grass was crowned the seven-year-old champion at Horse of the Year Show in 2019 and has been a consistent winner since. Also proving his versatility, he has managed to take four different riders into the ribbons during 2021, both nationally and internationally, earning him the reputation as a great catch ride.

    John’s win at the London Horse Show, however, was the speedy stallion’s first five-star success.

    “He is quick and competitive and jumped well in the class the day before,” said John. “I took him on the Tours in the spring and jumped him at La Baule. Paul really only has one horse for the bigger classes, so he said to me: ‘You might as well take him’.

    “Paul took him back for the Cock o’the North at Great Yorkshire and a few other shows in the summer, then my son Robert borrowed him for some classes at the Global Champions Tour in London. Then Adrian Speight rode him at Horse of the Year Show and was placed there. Then I’ve just borrowed him again for the London International Horse Show. He’s jumped really good for everyone actually!

    “He’s nine and seems to be coming to his best now. It’s nice to get a win under your belt anyway.”

    John’s nearest challenger in the class, taking the runner-up spot, was Great Britain’s Sameh El Dahan with Joanne Sloan-Allen’s very promising eight-year-old WKD Toronto.

    John joined the many riders praising the excellent facilities on offer at London Horse Show’s new home at ExCeL London.

    “We were all a bit dubious about the new venue because Olympia is so special but we’ve all been pleasantly surprised and we love it here,” said John. “It’s great for the horses, it’s much quieter so horses can relax, there’s plenty of room, space to park, a great hotel and everything is so easy. We’re sorry it wasn’t back there, but the ring is actually set out just like Olympia – just a little wider – so it still feels like it when you’re in there. It’s great.”

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