Ellen Whitaker refuses to ride for Britain under Rob Hoekstra

  • Ellen Whitaker has said she won’t jump for the British team again this year after falling out with performance manager Rob Hoekstra in the run-up to La Baule.

    British riders finished a creditable joint third place with Germany on their return to the Meydan FEI Nations Cup super league in La Baule on Friday, 14 May (report in H&H magazine, 27 May). But Ellen was absent from the team at La Baule, having been replaced by David McPherson.

    She told H&H: “I only have Ocolado at the moment and Rob wanted to interfere with the way I do everything.”

    Problems started when Mr Hoekstra asked Ellen to take the horse to Lummen (29 April-2 May).

    Ellen said: “I didn’t want to go as I thought it was too close to La Baule, but Rob would not listen.

    “Then he didn’t want me to jump Ocolado at Newark and Notts County Show before La Baule.

    “In the end, I decided the best thing would be for me to pull out of the team. I’m not trying to be awkward but I can’t work with somebody who won’t listen.”

    She said she had not ruled out jumping for Britain again, just not this season with Ocolado.

    Her father and manager Steven Whitaker added: “It’s not a matter of Ellen not wanting to jump for her country, but we won’t jump again until Rob Hoekstra is finished.

    “We have to mix jumping for Team GB with making money. He has left us with no alternative.”

    But British Equestrian Federation World Class performance director Will Connell said: “The riders wanted stronger management and leadership and that’s what Rob is delivering. The results in La Baule were good.”

    Ellen is welcome to rejoin the British team, he added.

    Mr Hoekstra did not wish to comment, saying: “I do not think team issues are best resolved through the press.”

    But he said Ellen had agreed to jump at Lummen and La Baule and attend coaching at Fontainebleau in between, but instead she jumped at Newark and then pulled out of La Baule.

    He said he rated Ellen very highly, but expected riders to be totally focused on the team.

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (20 May, 2010)

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