William Whitaker made a short visit to Britain and Horse of the Year Show a winning with the Speed Horse of the Year title on RMF Echo.
His last victory came in ponies in 2005 when he landed the top two places in the pony showjumper of the year with Indien De Here and Colton Maelstrom. He also won the pony Foxhunter title and 138cm championship.
Twenty-one battled for the title but William used smooth turns to provide a deceptively fast round from fifth draw on the Virus De Laubry 15-year-old and held on to the lead despite serious challenges. France’s Max Thirouin came with 0.03 of a sec on Jewel De Kwakenbeek to take second and William’s uncle Michael Whitaker made a spirited challenge from final draw with El Wee Widge, trying his utmost to take the top spot but had to settle for an eventual third.
"I thought he'd got me, he tried hard!" said William.
William has ridden Echo since January.
“He’s very experienced, you can tell on the tight turns, he’s right there with me and he has a very quick turn of foot, he can go from nothing to quick – very hand in a speed class,” said William on Echo. “He’s a funny horse, at home he’s quite lazy but at show he notices everything – he nearly died when he saw Lorenzo and all his loose horses! He was quite tense in the warm-up on the first day although he was OK in the ring and he has settled more every day.”
William has ridden for the American-based Rushy Marsh Farm since January but is based mainly in Germany at Rushy Marsh manager Helena Stormann’s German home at Eschweiler Equestrian Centre.
“I spend the summer in Germany and the winter in America,” explained William, who now has his eye on the Global Champions tour in Prague.
“My horses have had a little break from the outdoor season going into indoors and this was an ideal show to get them going in a similar atmosphere and see where we’re at.”
Emma Stoker claimed fourth on Japatero VDM with Mark Edwards in fifth on Tinkers Tale and Anthony Condon finished sixth with Zira VH Kapelhof Z.
The West Hants Pony Club made a triumphant return to HOYS, taking the Prince Phillip Cup trophy home for a second consecutive year. The team were the runaway winners with almost 20 points in hand.
Danny Wilson, Pony Club steward, retires from HOYS after 25 years
This year at Horse of the Year Show sees a poignant end to the career of another long-standing member of the HOYS team.
Danny Wilson has stewarded for the Pony Club Mounted Games at HOYS for over 25 years. Having first stepped in to help with the games in 1993 when the show was at Wembley and Danny’s children were involved in the Pony Club, he has seen mounted games winners go on to have successful careers both in and out of the saddle. Thousands of children have benefitted from his guidance and experience and it is to this end that we extend our gratitude.
Surprised by his presentation of an award in the Andrews Bowen International Arena on Sunday afternoon, Danny explained: “It’s been great fun and a privilege to be involved with the show for so many years. The people are amazing, and I have genuinely made life-long friends.”
Text and Photos © Jumping Around