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Whitaker’s winning start after swapping showjumps for hurdles

Showjumper Joe Whitaker made a flying start to his racing career with a perfectly judged win on his first ever ride.

Joe, 32, made his racing debut at Newcastle this afternoon (Tuesday, 28 January) aboard the Tjade Collier-trained Ladronne in an amateur riders’ handicap hurdle.

The six-year-old set off as the 15/8 favourite, settling as the back marker. In a superbly timed ride by Joe, the pair stormed up through the field after the final flight to win by a neck.

“I felt like he was still very strong and I could feel he was still on the bridle and I knew he had it — I didn’t know who was beside me or behind me, I just thought ‘wait until the very last second and then give it some’,” an emotional Joe told Sky Sports Racing after his win.

“Fair play to Tjade as well, because his instructions were 150% [right]. What a man, he is a serious trainer in the making.

“I was just focusing on riding smooth and getting in a rhythm, breathing, relaxing and just finding the race and taking it from there.

“I enjoyed every second of it and can guarantee I will be doing it again.”

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This was also a first win for the horse and the trainer, who was full of praise.

“It’s a relief, I’m so excited,” said Tjade. “I said ‘if you can give me a hand for a few weeks with some youngsters to get them going, I’ll give you a nice ride’.

What a peach [of a ride] he gave him — I said to him that I would rather he kicked too late than too soon and he did, I tell you!”

Joe’s winning debut follows a glittering showjumping career and the cross-over to racing started when he began riding out for Sue and Harvey Smith last summer.

The son of Steven Whitaker, Joe’s career highlights include representing Britain on youth sides and senior Nations Cup teams, plus wins at the 2018 Hickstead Derby meeting and the British Speed Classic at the Royal International in 2017.

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