At the recent World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany (7-10 April), 20-year-old Jack Whitaker finished a brilliant fifth, just one penalty point off the podium, riding Equine America Valmy De La Lande.
But the talented young rider also used the show to make his international debut with a new horse — the 13-year-old stallion Arena UK Winston, who has been a top ride for Jack’s cousin Ellen Whitaker for the past seven years.
“Ellen used to ride him, but she thought maybe the ride better suited me and, just through various conversations, he ended up at our yard just a couple of weeks ago,” Jack told H&H.
“I’m excited about him – he’s 13 now so not at the start of his career, but certainly not at the end.”
In Leipzig, the pair jumped round for just four faults in the CSI3* grand prix.
“We’re not sure of future plans yet,” explained Jack. “I am in Mexico and Miami [for the Longines Global Champions Tour] over the next few weeks, so the next show for him after that might be Windsor — we’ve got to make a plan now.”
Arena UK Winston is an Irish sport horse by Waldo Van Dungen x Hamilton Tropics, bred by Brenda Morelli of New Priory Stud.
Ellen first starting riding Winston for owner Norman Oley as a four-year-old, taking over from Laura Mantel and describing him as an “explosive, beautiful type, very blood and extremely balanced for his age”.
They went on to compete in Nations Cups for Great Britain, helping Ellen make her return to senior British teams for the first time after a seven-year absence, and were placed in grands prix up to CSI4* level.
“He’s actually very easy to ride for a big [17.2hh] stallion, but I have struggled — there were periods when I felt over-horsed,” she said. “He loves a big grass arena, he’s a brilliant water jumper, he’s so quick against the clock and my proudest moment came when he jumped double clear in the Nations Cup in Gijon [in 2019].”
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