Robert Whitaker: Rider Profile
by Sue Messenger
Tuesday 26 July 2011
The Whitakers can claim to be the country’s leading show jumping family with no less than 3 of them currently in the top 10 rankings for the sport. Robert, nephew of the famous Michael, son of John and cousin to top lady rider Ellen, is also currently ranked 9th on the Team GBR list..
Born in 1983, he lives with his family in Yorkshire, where all the show jumping Whitakers have their bases. Like Cousin Ellen he was surrounded by horses from birth and riding almost before he could walk. He began competitive riding at the age of 8 and delighted the crowds at Olympia at the age of 12 when he won the entertaining but hotly contested Mini Major Pairs Relay at Olympia, with his uncle Michael.
His senior career has been no less successful, with his first appearance in a Nations Cup Team at age 18 and when he took the British Open title in 2003 at just 20 years old. In the same year he became a member of the World Class Start and Potential Programmes, designed to nurture Great Britain’s medal winning prospects and he has remained on the programme ever since. In 2008 and 2009 he again scooped the British Open title, proving his consistency.
For fans his most popular horse was probably the Puissance wonder Finbarr, but Lacroix, now 15 years old has been his most successful to date and gave him his British Open wins. Most notable of his current string are the 9 year old Udo DV and Rooney 1V, also a comparative youngster at 9 years old.
Outside of riding Michael is expanding his business interests, including appearing on Horse and Country TV and producing a DVD with father John and Olympic dressage rider Richard Davison, on how dressage can help in the training of the show jumper. He also has his own range of saddlery.
2011 has been a successful year for him so far, so he will be fighting hard for inclusion in the Olympic squad, though there is plenty of competition there, not least from other members of the Whitaker family!
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