Team GB Scoop Gold at European Pony Championships
“It meant a lot to win on home soil,” said Clare Whitaker, of the famous Huddersfield-based showjumping family. She is married to Olympic medallist John and two of her daughter Louise and son Robert, are top showjumpers in their own right.
As other nations started to struggle during the second round of the big team competition course, the GB girls kept their cool and knew they had the gold medal in the bag after third rider Perdi Digby posted a clear. Although the gold was won, Nicole Lockhead Anderson still rode her final round - yet another clear - to keep her very much in the running for Sunday’s individual medals.
Horse & Country television’s Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes told viewers to “get your slippers - it’s going to be a long night” as it became clear Sweden had taken silver but that there would have to be a jump-off for bronze medal position. All four of French and Irish riders had to go again, this time against the clock. It went to the absolute wire, with France shaving a few precious seconds off the time and eventually taking the bronze podium position. The competition, which was scheduled to finish at around 5pm, kept everybody on the edge of their seats until nearly 8pm.
Even though Clare’s children have been out of ponies for a long time, she has a reputation as somebody who is keen on encouraging young talent and giving something back to the sport that has played such a huge part in her family’s life.
“It’s a fantastic result,” she said. “I was helping warm Nicole up when word came through that they’d won the gold. I wasn’t sure and didn’t dare believe it until official confirmation came.
“It’s a good big arena here at Bishop Burton. It was quite a technical course but the designer had done an excellent job. I couldn’t be happier.”
Adding a local touch, Bishop Burton Chief Executive and Principal Bill Meredith was joined by representatives of the Holderness Pony Club, which holds its annual summer camp at the college, for the prize-giving ceremony.