John Whitaker’s floating wonder horse was the first showjumper to win over £1m. But his scintillating results tell only half the story of this charismatic showman, writes Jennifer Donald
Every so often in our sport, a partnership captures the heart of a generation and earns a place in history. For nearly a decade, audiences were held spellbound by the magical aura of Milton and his rider John Whitaker. With the gelding’s sparkling white coat and breathtaking ability to float over the highest fences, Milton could rival Hollywood stars for his fans’ adoration; how fortunate that he thrived on the attention.
We revelled in the wonderful affair Milton had with John, who coaxed every ounce of brilliance from his willing wonder horse to triumph in back-to-back World Cups, claim over 30 major classes, six championship medals and become the first showjumper to win over £1m.
But the tale is tinged with tragedy as Milton’s original rider Caroline Bradley died before seeing her protégé reach the Olympic potential she had pinpointed in him.
Born in 1977 and originally named Marius Silver Jubilee, Milton was the result of a shrewd pairing conjured up by Oxfordshire breeder John Harding-Rolls, and had jumping blood pulsing through his veins.