‘You’ve got to learn and come back stronger’: William Whitaker on the team final at European Showjumping Championships

  • Great Britain’s William Whitaker has completed the second round of the team competition at the European Showjumping Championships on eight faults.

    William and the 11-year-old Galtur produced a cool and collected round, but lost a little bit of rhythm in the rollback to fence 10, taking the planks down, and then knocked the final fence of Frank Rothenberger’s course.

    “He jumped really well again, but it just goes to show what the fine lines are. I didn’t quite get my turn as I wanted it and he was a bit jerky to the planks. He drifted a little bit, and with the wavy planks it catches you out,” said William.

    “Down the last line I was umming and ahhing when I walked the course what distance to take, but I thought I’d be brave and positive. I was thrilled with the way he jumped the oxer and vertical, but then he just got a bit away from me at the last. He got there a bit far off and everything was a bit forward, and we just had the front bar off behind.”

    Reflecting on the course, William said questions were asked from the beginning.

    “There was a forward distance to the wall [fence three] and then short distance to the oxer [fence four], then you had the turn back to the water [fence five],” he said.

    “You don’t get much higher competition than this really, it’s a championship and that’s what you expect. You’ve just got to learn from your mistakes and come back stronger.”

    William, the most senior member of the British team at the European Showjumping Championships, took on the reins of the Philip and Jane Tuckwell’s home-bred gelding in 2020. The pair had four faults on the opening day (1 September) and picked up a further four faults yesterday (2 September) – but helped secure the team’s place in today’s final. The top 10 of 15 nations qualified, and while a team medal proved out of reach, the relatively inexperienced squad have each gained invaluable experience and produced some good rounds.

    William said on the whole he was really pleased with Galtur.

    “He’s quite a sensitive horse, especially when you get into these atmospheres. There’s 100 people stood around the entrance and you’ve kind of got to fight your way to get in the ring. He’s never experienced stuff like that before, so he’s thinking ‘What’s going on here?’,” said William.

    “When I get back I’ll rewatch my rounds and try and figure out where the faults were. The first day in the same part of the ring as today I turned back to the planks and didn’t quite get the turn that I wanted then either, so that’s certainly one thing I’ll be practising.”

    William’s score, along with the scores of Joe Stockdale, and Emily Moffitt, leave the Brits finishing on 53.18. Georgia Tame and Ascot Z7 were today’s drop-score after retiring following a refusal at the third fence.

    “We’ve got some really top riders in our country and we need to give them some support. We need to get this next crop of younger riders and new combinations through so I think these championships have been a fantastic opportunity for that,” said William.

    “It’s a positive feeling in camp. Although we maybe haven’t had the results in the rounds that we wanted, and as many clears as we would have liked, you’ve just got to take the positives on to the next competition. Di Lampard [Great Britain’s showjumping performance manager] is fantastic. She supports us all the way, not just here but the run up and after, so I’d like to thank her very much for that.”

    Will finished 33rd individually on 17.06. Emily Moffitt produced her first clear round inside the time of the competition to earn ticket to Sunday’s (5 September) European Showjumping Championships individual final in 22nd place on 12.12. The top 25 riders will compete, and Emily is the only Brit to make it through to the individual medal-deciding round.

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