It’s no surprise to see the younger generation of Whitakers following in the footsteps of their senior relatives but at Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex last week (5 January) the family’s horses were keeping it in the genes, too.
The winner of the winter grand prix was 20-year-old Jack Whitaker, son of the great Michael Whitaker. Jack’s victorious partner for this 1.50m class was the nine-year-old Negredo De Muze, a son of Michael’s former top grand prix mare Portofino, who took Michael to success all over the world. Among their most notable victories were the Big Ben Challenge in Toronto, World Cup qualifiers, Nations Cup — including winning the Aga Khan Trophy in Dublin in 2005 — as well as claiming team bronze at the European Championships in 2007.
Describing the similarities between the equine mother and son, who is by Elvis Ter Putte, Jack said there was a lot to like. He took the reins on Negredo 18 months ago from his father, who had produced him through young horse classes.
“He [Negredo] looks like Portfofino with a similar way of going,” he revealed, although he is “not the fastest” and patience has been key.
“The jump’s always been there but he’s a bit funny in his mouth. We keep it simple; concentration isn’t his strong point, but he’s improving,” added Jack.
The home-bred stallion carries the famous De Muze suffix from the stud where he was born, with Joris De Brabander and Michael Whitaker listed as his joint-breeders.
“It proved difficult to get embryos from Portofino so she went to specialised, experienced hands – Negredo was actually born in Belgium,” explained Jack.
The pair won Onley’s grand prix after a 13-way jump-off and Jack followed his father’s advice which was: “It’s gone 9pm, give it your best shot and don’t fanny about!”
“The double was on a dog-leg. I took the wider option for six strides, but you had to be positive to jump out,” said Jack.
Taking second in the class behind Jack was Louise Saywell riding Kingsborough Kasper, just ahead of Joe Fernyhough with Lejoor.
You can read the full report from Onley winter classic in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, in the shops from Thursday 13 January.
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