Youth and experience celebrated by BEWA
See also: BEMA Awards 2023
Youth and experience were celbrated as showjumping legend John Whitaker and Britain’s two reigning world champions Lottie Fry and Yasmin Ingham were celebrated by the British Equestrian Writers’ Association (BEWA) at London International Horse Show (15 to 19 December).
Whitaker, 67, was presented with the BEWA lifetime achievement award for his enormous contribution to the equestrian world in his long and successful career. He has been competing at the top of the sport for nearly five decades and has won more than 20 medals at Olympic, World and European championships.
Whitaker, who is competing at the London International Horse Show at the ExCeL this week, received the award from newly appointed BEWA chairman Rupert Bell in the main arena on Saturday (17 December).
The award was presented as a surprise and the Yorkshireman was joined in the arena by family and friends, including Stanny Van Paesschen, Marcus Ehning, Nick Skelton, Di Lampard, son Robert Whitaker, and two of his granddaughters.
“I was actually [a bit shocked], I was a bit taken aback – I got tricked, nobody told me!” he said afterwards, on the surprise presentation.
“It was very nice, it’s nice to be appreciated – as long as you don’t think I’m going to start thinking about retiring yet!”
“I’m not retiring. We love coming to this show, it’s an unbelievable atmosphere just before Christmas. I had quite a good day yesterday (Friday, 16 December) and I’m going to try to keep it up.”
His glittering career includes being crowned European champion with the grey hero Milton in 1989, where they also helped Britain successfully defend its European team title.
His CV also boasts victory at two World Cup finals, the King George V Gold Cup in 1986, 1990 and 1997, and the Hickstead Derby on four occasions, as well as countless other major classes and grands prix.
As well as the legendary Milton – the first horse to win £1m prize money in showjumping – Whitaker’s stable stars have included greats such as Ryan’s Son, Gammon, Argento, Peppermill, Hopscotch, Welham, Grannusch and Calvaro Z to name a few.
On being as competitive as ever, Whitaker added: “I can still beat them on my day, and I’m making all the young ones work for it. It’s a nice feeling. I don’t really have anything to prove, but I still want to go in there and be competitive.”
The achievements of reigning eventing and dressage world champions Yasmin and Lottie were honoured at a BEWA drinks reception at London International Horse Show on Friday (16 December). Yasmin, 25, who won individual gold on her senior championship debut in Pratoni with Sue Davies and Janette Chinn’s 11-year-old gelding Banzai Du Loir, was presented with the BEWA personality of the year trophy by Rupert and BEWA treasurer Lynne Reed.
Lottie, 26, was the winner of the moment of the year for her gold medal-winning freestyle performance with the Van Olst Horses’ 11-year-old stallion Glamourdale at the World Dressage Championships in Herning. Lottie’s father, Simon Fry, collected the award on his daughter’s behalf. Hours later, Lottie and Glamourdale set a new personal best of 90.99% in the World Cup freestyle at the show.
Thank you to former chairman Andrew Baldock, vice-chairman Kate Green and secretary Amy Powell for the years, support and wisdom they have dedicated to BEWA, and thank you also to the continued generous support of rEvolution, HPower and the London International Horse Show in facilitating the awards.
Watch Rupert Bell make the presentation to John Whitaker below.