Francis Whittington is going to the Europeans

For as long as I can remember it has been one of my goals to represent Team GBR and earn my senior flag. After a number of years working and training hard as well as receiving a lot of help and support I have been selected to go to the Europeans as one of 12 riders chosen from a very strong field of competitors.

Easy Target ‘Smokey’ is a kind hearted strong charactered horse who has been with us since he was 4. I can’t thank his owner Catherine Witt enough for her support over the last few years and for allowing me the ride on Smokey so many years ago. How exciting for her to have two horses selected for the same championship. Has this happened before?

Over the years Smokey and I have had a number of good results, the highlight to date was our win at Blenheim last autumn. This summer we will continue our training and stick to the same format from last year and see if we can reproduce the same result!

I have been very fortunate over the last few years to have received amazing support from a group of incredible sponsors who have helped me on my journey. A journey that is not possible without the backing of such loyal owners, to whom I am eternally grateful that they should choose to join my journey to future championship success.

All the hard work and belief is not enough without a support team led by Sharon Mepham and a team of trainers ensuring I stay on course. Now with their help we must continue to dig deeper, work harder and smarter to ensure we can pull out our best result.

This year I was moved on to the Performance squad. The support given by World Class , UK sport and the National lottery allows us to better ourselves by improving our performance with the help of the professionals they employ and the services they provide. To all of them we thank you.

This Summer is going to fly by. Let us work towards it being as good as last year. To all those who follow and support, your messages provide great encouragement and drive, I hope you enjoy this journey as much as we do.

We threw some quick questions at our loyal brand ambassador;

What advice would you give someone wanting to start eventing?

If you are determined to event, get a plan, be prepared to work hard and work to a programme. However hard you think you are working, you need to work harder. Even at lower levels of eventing, getting your timing wrong can scupper your hopes of success.

Do you have any tips on achieving the optimum time going cross-country?

Rhythm is the key to riding inside the time. Choose a rhythm, stick to it and practise consistently. Be aware of your rhythm on the course, check your time-faults and practise again next time out. Top riders work on “rhythm, balance and control”. Every course-designer has a rhythm, it’s about finding that rhythm each time.

Who inspires you within the equestrian world?

There are a number of people who I find inspiring in what they have done, namely William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Hoy. I am inspired watching their method in how they work, how they train, how they think, it is inspiring stuff and they are good examples of caring for the horses and getting the best out of them.

What quality do you like most in a horse?

Trainability, a big heart and a desire to do the job!

What products can you not live without?

I could not live without the great back up provided by Nettex, whose grooming products keep the girls very happy!

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