Great Britain’s fourth and final rider William Whitaker kept the team’s hopes alive of earning a place in Friday’s medal decider with a four-fault round on day two of the European Showjumping Championships.
William and Philip Tuckwell’s home-bred Galtur just hit the vertical coming out of the treble combination in the first half of the course, coming home just inside the time allowed.
His score put Great Britain on a final tally of 33.18 and they then faced an anxious wait to see if that would be good enough to put them in the top 10 in the team standings; only the leading 10 nations go through to Friday’s medal decider.
“I was absolutely thrilled with the way my lad jumped,” said William, 32, the senior member of the Great Britain team at the European Showjumping Championships and now a veteran of three championships himself.
“He was so unlucky. To be fair, he did his best to jump it – I think he made such an effort over the middle part that then the next one was upon him and although he did everything to get out of the way, he just clipped it with his back legs.
“But it’s probably one of the biggest courses he’s jumped and in this sort of environment, the whole atmosphere adds to that [1.60m height]. I thought he jumped as good at the end as he did at the beginning, which I like. So I’m obviously sick about the fault, but really pleased with the way he jumped.”
William only took the reins on Galtur in 2020, taking over from Helen Tredwell.
“I was chatting with Jane [Tuckwell], his owner, this morning and saying we’ve come such a long way in such a short period of time as a combination,” added William. “I think sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact that we’re still learning about each other as a partnership. I’m obviously still trying to find out the tiny little details just to get that sort of final product that we’re looking for. But it feels like he’s got all the ingredients there. And I’ve been delighted with him.”
Reflecting on building strength and depth in Great Britain’s championship squads, William added: “What Ben Maher, Scott Brash, John and Michael Whitaker and Nick Skelton have done in the past 10 or 20 years has been fantastic so we need to look at them and carry that on.”
The European Showjumping Championship continues on Friday with the team medal decider before the individual competition is concluded on Sunday (5 September).
You may also be interested 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.