Jack Whitaker wins Individual Silver at the Youth European Championships
Sunday 25 July 2021
The final day at the FEI Youth European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal got underway today with the Individual Young Rider Final and it was Jack Whitaker that secured a place for Great Britain on the podium when he claimed the Silver medal.
Jack, aged 19 from Whatton in Nottinghamshire, had earlier in the week won a Team Bronze when competing as part of the Young Rider squad competing under the title sponsor banner of Team NAF for Great Britain. Delivering four clear rounds, across the five that count towards the Individuals, aboard the 11 year old mare Scenletha saw him finish on 6.67 penalties with just over a single penalty dividing the three medal winning placings.
Gold went to Matthis Westendarp (GER) with a score of 5.45 whilst Emilie Conter (BEL) took 3rd with their tally of 7.14. Jack who had jumped clear on the first day picked up an uncharacteristic 4 penalties on Day Two when a front pole of an oxer rolled from the cup to see them slide down to 13th position on the leaderboard. Fortunes changed however when both Matthis and Emilie accrued 4 penalties each on Day 3 to see the playing field level out again with Jack coming forward to this afterrnoon’s final leg in 2nd position.
Competition certainly got tense when all three riders posted another clear in the first of the two rounds they were required to jump, despite the technical questions being asked of them across the 1.50m course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral. With all to play for each of them came forward for the final time knowing that an error by any one of them could not only change their order but also drop them completely out of contention due to both Spain and Russia having riders sitting on their coat tails with less than a fence between themselves and the Gold medal position.
You could have heard a pin drop such was the atmosphere of anticipation when the final two riders of Jack and Matthis came forward. As the penultimate rider of the competition Jack, who seems to thrive under pressure, rode into the arena a picture of calm and with no sign of what was at stake for him in the next few minutes. Extremely stylish in his riding he pushed Scenletha into canter and through the start line to then give her an incredible round to post yet another clear and the assurance of at least a Silver medal. With everything balanced on the next rider’s shoulders all eyes were on Matthis to see how the final medal allocation was going to be awarded. Another clear delivered by Matthis however saw Germany collect the Gold with Jack in the Silver medal position.
All four days of competition had seen some incredible performances across the youth riders representing the sixteen Young Rider nations taking part at the Championships this week. Jack’s performance to finish in Silver ahead of more than eighty other combinations was incredibly impressive and to make it look so effortless right to the end really sums up his talent. Great Britain were further represented in the final line up by Lily Freeman Attwood, aged 19 from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, with the 11 year-old gelding Karibou Horta owned by Emily Freeman Attwood.
For full results https://online.equipe.com/en/class_sections/593311
British Showjumping would like to thank NAF, title sponsors of the Senior Nations Cup Teams along with the Pony, Children, Junior, Young Rider and Veteran teams.
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The GBR showjumping teams are supported by the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Programme, funded by UK Sport through the National Lottery. The Programme focuses on identifying talent, developing potential and maximising medal-winning performances on the world stage. The teams are further supported by LeMieux, who supply the teams with saddlepads and rugs.