A Whitaker Win in the Grandstand Challenge Cup

A Whitaker Win in the Grandstand Challenge Cup

William Whitaker ensured a memorable day for the most famous family in British Showjumping when he won the Grandstand Challenge Cup in front of a capacity crowd at the Horse of the Year Show.

His victory came just a few hours after his uncle John Whitaker’s 50 years of competing at HOYS was marked with a special photographic tribute alongside family members and fellow riders such as William, Robert, Ellen and Jack in the Andrews Bowen International Arena.

William ensured the celebrations would continue as he triumphed aboard Jallelah OI after a thrilling jump-off, winning by just 52 hundredths of a second from Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney, with Jackson Reed-Stephenson and Exception taking third.

“I am absolutely delighted with her. She’s been jumping really well lately, and I felt it was coming,” William said. “She was on the same wavelength as me, and we managed to get it done.

“I had my plan, and I was lucky to have a later draw. She is naturally quick, and I knew if I could keep it smooth as I could, we would be there or thereabouts.”

Paying tribute to his uncle, William added: “The word legend doesn’t do him justice, really. We look up to John and learn from him every day. His competitive instincts are amazing, and he keeps beating us! He’s been doing it all my life.

“The Horse of the Year Show means so much to us as a family. We all want to follow in the footsteps of what John and Michael (Whitaker) have done, so to be here competing makes me very proud.”

Earlier on Saturday, the numbers added up for mathematics teacher Jessica Burke in The Accumulator class, as she claimed a second international victory of the week.

The Hampshire-based Irish rider followed up victory in Friday’s NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes class by claiming a thrilling triumph to deny Welshman Mark Edwards.

Combinations collect points for fences jumped, with a maximum score of 44. Riders level on points are then separated by time.

Jess clocked 33.77 seconds with Inpluss, and no-one seriously threatened it until Mark went into the arena aboard the appropriately named Flying Tinker II, but he finished 14 hundredths of a second behind, with Ireland’s Shane Breen taking third aboard Vistogrand.

“Everything just came up exactly how I wanted,” Jess said. “Sometimes when you put in a round like that you still think you can get beat, but I did feel there was nothing else I could have done.

“I knew it would take something very special to beat it, but Mark Edwards put in a brilliant round as well.

“You just get some horses like that who want to do it and fight for you day in, day out. It’s amazing, an incredible feeling. We’ll go for the Speed Horse of the Year on Sunday – we’ve won two and we will give it another shot.”

  • Audio interview with William Whitaker, winner of the Grandstand Challenge Cup at the Horse of the Year Show
  • Audio interview with Jessica Burke, winner of The Accumulator class at the Horse of the Year Show

For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2022, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205. Email: press@hoys.co.uk

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