A HUDDERSFIELD showjumping family have been named amongst Britain’s finest.
The renown Whitaker dynasty scooped two prizes at the British Show Jumping Association Awards.
Olympic showjumper John Whitaker – who runs a farm in Upper Cumberworth – was named the Riders’ Rider of the Year at a glittering ceremony at the NEC in Birmingham.
And nephew George Whitaker, 16, rode off with the title of Best Pony Rider of the Year, after winning two gold medals in the Junior European Pony Championships in Switzerland last year.
George, who works for his uncle, said: “I was really glad when they said my name, because it is something so good to have on my CV.’’
John, 53, who is in Birmingham competing in the four-day British Open Showjumping Championships this week, was surprised to receive the title.
It was the first year his award – voted for by other showjumping competitors – has been given.
He said: “I really didn’t expect to win to be honest.
“Last year I had quite a good year, but there were a few ups and downs.
“I thought the other two who were nominated had really good years, so I was very surprised.
“But it was really good, especially because it is voted for by the riders themselves who you are competing against all year.’’
John leads a long line of showjumping Whitakers, currently taking the sport by storm.
His successes last year included riding in Beijing as part of Team GB, taking his Olympic appearances to five.
His achievements are mirrored by his brother Michael, who has ridden in four Olympics, missing out on the fifth because his horse was lame.
John’s son Robert also won the title at the 2008 British Championships while Michael took the Reserve title and nephew William third place.
A total of 11 prizes were handed out marking the sport’s achievements in 2008.