Ellen WhitakerEllen Whitaker is one of the many Whitakers currently dominatimg the show jumping world. Her Uncles, John (MBE) and Michael Whitaker, are household names, famous for their astounding achievements, which include Olympic, World, and European Championship medals. Their relaxed Yorkshire attitudes are reflected in their trademark riding styles, making even the most testing horse perform to perfection. Born into this family of show jumping legends, Ellen Whitaker is part of the new generation who have inherited this talent and are taking the equestrian world by storm. Her brothers and cousins are also making the headlines with winning results and adding further value to the family name.
Although Ellen Whitaker can’t remember the exact age she started riding, she competed in her first affiliated class at the tender age of five before qualifying for the prestigious Horse of the Year Show at just eight years old.From there Ellen Whitaker strived to be the best and along the way has also unintentionally brought glamour back to the sport. With her striking looks and interest in fashion and photography, it’s no wonder Ellen attracts media attention. She has already been signed by leading equestrian clothing manufacturer Caldene to endorse and model their products. Her style and presence both in and out of the saddle has also won her prestigious awards such as the Longines Ladies Award for Elegance and the British Show Jumping Association’s Personality of the Year.
But these prizes are not Ellen Whitaker’s main priority. As a very competitive sportswoman her sights are firmly set on the London 2012 Olympics. Alongside her Uncles, she was one of the four riders selected to represent Great Britain last August in Germany in the European Championships. This was the country’s last chance to qualify for Beijing and the British chef d’equipe, Derek Ricketts, was taking no chances when he picked this team. In a similar situation to that of Sven Goran Eriksson when he selected young Theo Walcutt for England’s football squad, many people may have criticised Derek’s choice of Ellen Whitaker. As a younger rider she had a lot less experience than the older competitors at his disposal. However, being one of the youngest riders at the Championships didn’t faze Ellen Whitaker. She rose to the challenge and produced a phenomenal performance jumping triple clear and assisting her team in securing the bronze medal and qualification for the 2008 Olympics. Commenting on competing alongside his family and Ellen’s contribution to the team, John Whitaker (MBE) said, “It’s great to have my family around during the Championships. Ellen Whittaker has always been a good, competitive rider. She’s tough but she’s also got a cool head. It was her 2nd round that put us back in the picture (for the Championships).”
One of Ellen Whitaker`s most succesful horses has to be Locarno, the pair bonded very quickly and there is no doubt that Ellen Whitaker and Locarno share a special connection that contributes to their accomplishments. Conversely, earlier this year Ellen Whitaker was looking ahead to a very bleak year due to a dispute with Locarno’s owner. Locarno was originally bought by Ellen Whitaker’s father Steven and a 2nd shareholder who decided that he would like to sell Locarno in order to benefit from his shares. Without the capital to buy Locarno outright it looked as if the stallion would be moved on and one of Britain’s best Olympic potentials would be lost. However, Ellen Whitaker’s father (and trainer) was not going to let the horse go without a fight. Commenting on her European Championship Bronze Team medal, Ellen Whitaker said, “When I lost the ride on Locarno my father was prepared to sell our family farm and give up everything he had ever worked for. All I wanted to do at the Championships was pay him back with a medal.” Thankfully, Mrs Dawn Makin became Ellen Whitaker’s hero when she bought the shares and took on part ownership of Locarno, allowing the partnership to continue their success.
Farther Steven Whitaker - Part of the famous Whitaker family Steven Whitaker is brother to two of the most succesfull british riders John Whitaker & Michael Whitaker. Steven Whitaker is also a succesfull show jumper but is probably better known for being farther to Ellen Whitaker who has consistently been one of the leading lady riders.
Brother Joe Whitaker - Younger brother to Ellen Whitaker Joe is a very romising young rider, Joe was ranked 7th in the UK “Top Young Riders” list, in 2006 he was National Champion and of course also 2006, he was a member of the Junior European Championship team who won the Bronze Medal. Amongst many other achievements was his 2nd place in the Speed Derby at Hickstead in 2009.