Five minutes with: Top showjumper William Whitaker *H&H Plus*

  • Yorkshire-based William Whitaker, 30, is one of the country’s leading showjumpers – the Olympia World Cup was one of his greatest victories. Having parted company with his previous backer at the start of the year, he has returned home to build up a new string.

    What was the last book you read?
    Bradley Wiggins’ autobiography My Time – it was really inspirational.

    What are your favourite tunes for a road-trip?
    I love to listen to a bit of Avicii.

    What’s your most annoying habit and your best trait?
    My wife Elisabeth says my worst habit is putting my wet towel on the bed after a shower. I’d like to think my best trait is treating others how I like to be treated myself.

    If you could have any horse in the world, which would you want?
    Tough question – there have been so many incredible horses over the years. But if I had to pick one it would be Big Star. He was scopey, careful, fast and rideable. He looked untouchable on his day.

    If you weren’t a rider, you would be…
    A farmer or a turf layer.

    Do you speak any other languages?
    I speak a little bit of Swedish as my wife Elisabeth comes from Sweden.

    What’s your favourite country?
    To compete in, it would be Britain – you can’t beat competing at a big show on home soil. For a holiday I like Tenerife.
    How many dogs do you have? Any other pets?
    We have six dogs, five guinea pigs, four chickens and a cat.

    What got you into the most trouble as a child?
    Fighting with my brother, George.

    What is the best thing you cook?
    I’m not a great cook, but I can make good sweet potato wedges. I’m not bad at omelettes either.

    How are you and your horses coping during the coronavirus crisis?
    Not too much has changed at home for the horses – their routines stay pretty much the same apart from the competitions being on hold. Meanwhile we are doing plenty of hand-washing and keeping our distance from one another.

    What was your first pony?
    A little white Welsh mountain gelding called Peter Pan. He was 11hh, had a lovely temperament and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but he was very lazy.

    Which famous person would you invite to dinner?
    I am a big sports fan so I would love to get a group of the GOATs (Greatest Of All Time) from different sports together to discuss their journeys to the top. I would invite Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Roger Federer, Ronnie O’Sullivan, AP McCoy, Alan Shearer and Michael Jordan. These are just a few – I would need a big table!

    Give us the lowdown on your current top horse…
    I have a couple of promising new horses that I’ve been riding since moving back to the UK in January, including the Minderman family’s 11-year-old Toulon mare, Eribelle N (pictured, left). We also have a nice bunch of youngsters I’ve been working on with my brother, James, and the rest of the team at home.

    Your favourite tipple?
    A good cup of Yorkshire Tea.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 30 April 2020