Multiple British Olympian John Whitaker will bring his special brand of magic to the inaugural Liverpool International Horse Show this week.

And spectators at the Liverpool Echo Arena will be able to witness close up what makes the 60-year-old Yorkshireman such an iconic figure in world showjumping.

Whitaker, who has his sights set on challenging for a Great Britain place at the 2016 Rio Olympics — it would be his sixth Games, if selected — is showing no sign of slowing down, and he offers a fascinating insight into the exacting standards required to remain among the sport’s world elite.

He arrives in Liverpool on the back of a successful London International Horse Show campaign at Olympia, where he finished second behind 2012 Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher on the show’s leading rider table following one win and two other podium finishes.

“The courses all week at Olympia were tough, but the standard is so high. You expect seven or eight clear rounds in most competitions, and you end up getting 11 or 12,” Whitaker said.

“But it is the name of the game now, and you have to keep up with those standards. I am up every morning at half past six, for instance, schooling horses.”

“It is so professional now, and you try to be really professional in everything you do.”

“When you are competing against the best riders in the world, it rubs off on each other, you bounce off each other and you keep upping your game. The standard is just getting higher and higher.”

Joining Whitaker at Liverpool will be the likes of his brother Michael and fellow Olympic medallist Peter Charles, plus in-form British competitors like Laura Renwick, Guy Williams, William Funnell, Robert Whitaker and William Whitaker, in addition to 2015 Bolesworth International grand prix champion Yazmin Pinchen.

A considerable Irish challenge will be led by Billy Twomey, who finished third at this year’s Paris Masters, plus the consistently-successful Breen brothers, Shane and Trevor, former Aachen grand prix champion Denis Lynch, Cameron Hanley and Dermott Lennon.

And the overseas representation is considerable, featuring Italy’s recent London World Cup qualifier winner Emanuele Gaudiano, exciting Belgian prospect Constant van Paesschen, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, who was a member of Sweden’s 2004 Olympic silver medal-winning team, Norway’s Geir Gulliksen and Dutch rider Johnny Pals.

Ten of the world’s top 100-ranked riders will be on show as Rio Olympics year 2016 gets underway with a blockbusting new four-star show that has a total prize fund of £160,000.

Besides top-class showjumping, Liverpool’s slick, eye-catching production will incorporate  scintillating performances from the ‘Bootleg Beatles,’ opera singers Bella Voci, theatrical stunt rider Clémence Faivre and the ever-popular Shetland Pony Grand National.

Fine dining will also be available, plus a champagne bar and many food outlets, in addition to an impressive shopping village retailing high-end clothing, equestrian accessories, giftwares, fine foods and beautiful things for the home.

It’s not to late to book tickets, E tickets are available online or can be bought on the gate at The Echo Arena up until the last performance on Sunday, January 3rd ends.

To book your tickets for Liverpool International Horse Show or for more information, go to


Source: Liverpool International Horse Show/Debra Hargrave