Donald Whitaker and Millfield Colette, British showjumping heroes

  • After Nice Britain’s showjumping crew delighted followers with their good victory within the Nations Cup of Sharjah, UAE, final weekend, we caught up with one of many profitable quartet, Donald Whitaker, who jumped an excellent double clear with the gorgeous mare Millfield Colette.

    He describes the crew’s achievement as “a day I’ll always remember”, not least as a result of he was leaping alongside his brother Joe Whitaker for simply the second time, in addition to team-mates Tim Gredley and William Funnell.

    Millfield Colette, recognized at residence as “Ellie”, is a 10-year-old mare by Cornet Obolensky and a brand new journey for 30-year-old Donald. She was bred by Sue Jaggar at Millfield Stud out of a Clearway mare and was produced by Laura Robinson, with whom she had been leaping CSI3* grands prix, earlier than Donald took the reins firstly of November.

    “She’s getting higher and higher each single time she jumps,” Donald advised H&H. “I’d at all times had a little bit of an eye fixed on her leaping with Laura, but it surely’s really my girlfriend Nicola Pohl who owns her and she or he talked about her once more, so we took a bit extra discover of her, then within the area of per week we had purchased her.

    “The primary day I rode her, I realised she has plenty of blood, she’s very scopey and she or he’s intelligent as nicely,” he provides. “She’s a bit wild – she’s a blood mare – however when she goes within the ring she places all that into her soar, she’s an unbelievable fighter. She seems like the larger the fences, the tougher she needs to run at them. She’s wonderful to journey, very thrilling, and she or he seems like there’s nothing too large for her.”

    Donald Whitaker: ‘She’s making her presence felt’

    The pair have been positioned in a handful of reveals in Europe earlier than travelling to the UAE firstly of the 12 months, the place they have been a part of the five-star Nations Cup crew that completed second in Abu Dhabi, earlier than going one higher in Sharjah.

    “She simply had one fence down within the five-star, then got here again and jumped a tremendous clear spherical,” says Donald. “On the again of that, to then soar double clear in Sharjah reveals she’s enhancing each time she goes within the ring, so she’s very thrilling.

    “She’s the one which’s coming by, shiny lights shining. She’s undoubtedly made her presence felt within the secure that’s for certain!”

    Donald describes profitable a Nations Cup crew competitors alongside his brother as “very particular”.

    “Joe was beating himself up a bit after the final one [when he just missed out in a jump-off against Austria] so I stated, ‘We’ll simply need to win the subsequent one’ – and we did!” says Germany-based Donald, who made his UAE debut final 12 months. “The course was technical sufficient – it most likely wasn’t the largest observe beneath the circumstances, however Nations Cups are extra concerning the event, individuals on the crew are counting on you and there’s a bit of additional stress. Nevertheless it was tough sufficient, with solely two double clears and Eire had a powerful crew, too.

    “There was such good crew spirit – with my brother there, Tim Gredley, Will Funnell; we’re all excellent mates so really the environment has been excellent for the previous couple of weeks.”

    Donald Whitaker reveals that he “tries to do my very own factor” throughout Nations Cup competitions, however had “half an eye fixed on Eire”, Nice Britain’s nearest challengers coming by to spherical two.

    “So going into the ring, I wasn’t 100% certain, however I knew if Shane Breen, who went earlier than me, had one down and I went clear, we’d kind of received it,” says Donald. “However I blocked that out as I trotted into the ring and she or he simply popped spherical it. Driving a horse like her makes life loads simpler!

    “To leap on a Nations Cup crew is a extremely large alternative and to do in addition to we’ve accomplished firstly of the 12 months provides you huge confidence – it’s good for the horses, good for British showjumping and it provides everybody round you confidence as nicely.

    “It’s a dream come true, simply wonderful.”

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