Senior Whitaker brothers land a win apiece: ‘Something I’ll remember for ever’

  • With a combined age of 132, the Whitaker brothers John and Michael proved they were riding better than ever with a win apiece in this week’s international showjumping news round-up.

    A stunning grey gelding racked up another top-level success in Madrid and Ronnie Jones with super mare Kaleche were also back in the winner’s enclosure, chased home by a stallion still going strong at the age of 18. Read on for this week’s round-up of international showjumping news and results.

    International showjumping news: Whitaker is back to winning ways

    It may have been two years since we last saw showjumping legend Michael Whitaker jumping at CSI4* level but he proved why he is still the maestro with a superb victory at the Longines Whitsun Tournament in Wiesbaden.

    Reunited with 12-year-old mare Equine America Q Paravatti N, whom Michael’s son Jack Whitaker has also been riding, Michael triumphed in the 1.50m Lotto-Hessen Prize speed class by 0.4sec over local hero Daniel Deusser riding Ellabelle De Rie Z.

    “Wiesbaden is a nice traditional tournament, I like it a lot,” said 64-year-old Michael, who first competed at the venue 40 years ago. “My horse felt very good here.”

    Not wanting to be outdone by his younger brother…

    Michael’s older brother John Whitaker, 68, also earned his place in the winner’s enclosure this weekend, teaming up with Gilles Thomas (Ermitage Kalone) – 42 years John’s junior – to represent Valkenswaard United in the Global Champions League (GCL) of Madrid. This was the squad’s first win since Hamburg in 2022.

    John was aboard the brilliant gelding Equine America Unick Du Francport.

    “I’m really proud of Gilles today. He didn’t need any help from me, he rode class,” said John. “This win means a lot for the team and really puts us back in the championship race.”

    Gilles paid his respects to his esteemed team-mate: “I couldn’t be happier to win, but to win with John is something I will remember for ever. Our team is made up of legends such as Marcus Ehning and Edwina Tops-Alexander, so it is a real privilege to be part of Valkenswaard United.”

    Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 win the Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix of Madrid.

    Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 win the Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix of Madrid. Pic: Longines Global Champions Tour.

    “Just go full speed and keep galloping”

    Also making showjumping news headlines this week, Germany’s Christian Kukuk risked it all to the final fence riding the brilliant stallion Checker 47 in a thrilling jump-off for the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid grand prix. The lightning quick duo won by nearly a second over Maikel van der Vleuten riding Beauville Z NOP, and Gilles Thomas was back on the podium with Ermitage Kalone in third after an eight-way jump-off.

    “I came here with a good feeling, it is an unbelievable show with a beautiful arena, it truly is a pleasure to ride here,” said Christian, who picks up a ticket for the end-of-season Super Grand Prix with this win. “I knew the jump-off was going to be fast so I tried everything. I took all the risk to the last, I said to myself ‘Just go full speed’, and I kept galloping home.”

    Maikel paid tribute to his rival’s winning performance: “I must say Christian did a great jump-off, he took all the risks; his horse is very quick over the ground, so is my horse Beauville Z NOP, but we just couldn’t catch him today, however, I must say, I am very pleased with my second place.”

    International showjumping news: victory for Ronnie Lee Jones and Kaleche

    Continuing an impressive run of form, British showjumper Ronnie Lee Jones and the hugely versatile mare Kaleche landed the CSI2* gold tour grand prix sponsored by LeMieux at Wellington Riding, Hampshire. He gained nearly half a second advantage over Joe Clayton with 18-year-old stallion Gentlemen VH Veldhof; Jude Burgess finished third on Oilina.
    You can read the full report from CSI2* Wellington in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine.

    Balmoral success for Derwin and accolades for Fernyhough

    At the hugely popular CSI2* Balmoral Show in Northern Ireland, grand prix glory was earned by Francis Derwin riding his own Flexi K, an 11-year-old son of Flex A Bill, bred by the Knightfield Stud. The pair blitzed the time set by runner-up Clem McMahon on the eight-year-old Clonterm Obolensky. Completing a podium full of quality Irish sport horses, third place went to Jonathan Smyth with Mulvin Lui. Joe Fernyhough was best of the Brits in fourth with Calcourt Particle in the grand prix but won the show’s leading international athlete award, as well as being crowned the leading international speed athlete.

    You may also like to read…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...