Luck provides winning hand and points Whitaker towards success

UP AND OVER: Donald Whitaker rides Quick Laura AS Z on their way to a four-way tie in the prestigious Tagg Puissance.
UP AND OVER: Donald Whitaker rides Quick Laura AS Z on their way to a four-way tie in the prestigious Tagg Puissance.
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DONALD Whitaker hopes he has turned over a new leaf in his showjumping career – after a game of rock-paper-scissors led to an early career high at the Horse of the Year Show.

Barnsley-based Whitaker shared first prize in Saturday night’s prestigious Tagg Puissance competition as part of a four-way tie with cousin Joe Clayton, plus Charlotte Flack and David Simpson.

The four riders each walked away with a quarter of the £12,300 first prize yet Donald would have sat out the competition but for winning a game of rock-paper-scissors with his older brother Joe. In-form Joe competed throughout the week at HOYS and was considering riding joint-Puissance victor Quick Laura AS Z, owned by Antonio Mariñas – boyfriend of sister Ellen.

After much deliberation, the Whitaker brothers could not decide who should take the mount and opted for a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide.

Luck was with 22-year-old Donald, both in winning the right to ride and in Saturday night’s packed out Puissance final at Birmingham’s NEC.

Donald told The Yorkshire Post: “To be honest, I wasn’t actually going to jump the Puissance until the night before.

“It was my idea to jump the horse in the Puissance to start with and Joe said if I wasn’t going to do it, then he would do it. I said ‘just take it then’ because I wasn’t feeling that confident anyway but then I changed my mind.

“It got to the night before and Joe said, ‘well, who’s riding it then?’

“He said, ‘I’ll tell you what, we’ll rock-paper-scissors it’ and I won so I took it.

“I don’t think Joe was too bothered because I’d been riding the mare all year and he’d not had the chance to get used to riding her.

“She’s not the easiest to ride as she’s sharp and she can be a bit funny with her head and everything.

“I think he was quite relieved to miss out at first but when I won it I think he wished he was on it, obviously.”