Stars in the Spotlight: John Whitaker
“I think that, as with everything in life, you get out what you put in. You have to put the hours in. But you also have to have a feeling for the horse, and bring horsemanship into it. The horse is the most important thing.”
Last year, we caught up with the popular British rider at his home event - the Longines Global Champions Tour of London, held at the iconic Royal Hospital Chelsea - to learn more about his story.
John has a powerful resume, competing in 6 Olympic Games, famously riding the popular Ryan’s Son, icon grey Milton and top stallion Argento to world class success, including podium places in Lausanne, Monaco and London on the LGCT circuit.
2017 saw John play an influential part of the Championship winning Global Champions League team, the Hamburg Diamonds, where he teamed up with Harrie Smolders, Eric Lamaze, Audrey Coulter and Jos Verlooy, their U25 rider. This year John made appearances in Shanghai, Monaco and Chantilly helping the Diamonds clinch the win from arch rivals Valkenswaard United - John’s former 2016 team where he famously competed against his brother Michael.
“The Global Champions League is a new aspect to the sport, where sponsors can go and set their own team up. The crowd can get behind and root for a team they like. The standard is really, really high.”
Now 62 years old, John has a phenomenal string of horses and has become a regular on the LGCT Championship, winning classes in Rome, Doha, Vienna, Paris, Monaco, Hamburg and Valkenswaard over the years. “There’s not many sports like ours where there can be such an age gap, and men and women ride together.”
Despite his huge following, John remains humble, grounded through and through; "I never thought I’d still be doing it in my 60’s - I feel lucky and privileged to still physically be good enough to do it and mentally still trying to win. And lucky enough to still have good horses to keep riding!”