Thomas Whitaker claimed junior show jumping’s biggest prize at the Horse of the Year Show this afternoon. After a masterful display of riding, which Whitaker heralded “the fastest round of my life”, he was presented with the San Antonio Equitacion Leading Junior Show Jumper of the Year prize by his uncle John Whitaker.
The class illustrated the prowess of Britain’s under 16-year-old show jumpers – nine riders made it through to the jump off and four of them cleared the course in under 40 seconds. Whitaker’s win ensures the Leading Junior Show Jumper title stays in the family – he inherits it from his cousin William Whitaker who won in 2005.
Zoe Adams and VIP Tixylix were the first combination to contest the 148cm championship of championships. A 36.63 sec clear round set a magnificent standard for the rest of the class. But the others were hungry for the challenge and 12–year-old Pippa Allen and the strikingly marked Spot the Lady were next to jump clear – in a time of 34.87 sec.
It seemed unlikely that anyone would be able to better Allen’s razor-sharp turns but James Smith, one of Scotland’s hottest new talents, proved this to be wrong. Aboard Mr Nice Guy Smith managed to shave 600th of a second off Pippa Allen’s time, finishing in 34.81 sec.
As Matthew Sampson, already winner of the HOYS junior newcomers and Foxhunter championships, entered the arena the crowd took a deep breath. And his 33.53 sec time was good enough for first place but an unlucky four faults put him and Lakeland Little Wonder out of the running.
Thomas Whitaker and Miami Bound were next to jump and in one of the finest rounds of the show so far, proceeded to knock a full two seconds of James Smith’s time. Their 32.31 sec score proved unbeatable and the last two contestants Brett Gardner (Frere Jacques) and Jessie Drea (Quantum Light) fell in line further down the order.
“It’s definitely my biggest win,” said an elated Whitaker afterwards “it was absolutely amazing.”
The 148cm Leading Show Jumper of the Year Championship is always hotly contested by Britain’s top under 16-year-olds. In 1976 Michael Whitaker took the crown followed by current BSJA chairman Micharl Mac in 1977, Robert Bevis in 1981 and Paul Barker in 1994.
1. Thomas Whitaker Miami Bound
2. James Smith Mr Nice Guy
3. Pippa Allen Spot the Lady
4. Zoe Adams VIP Tixylix
5. Matthew Sampson Lakeland Little Wonder