An initiative of Horse Sport Ireland

Ryan’s Son Irish Sport Horse Irish Horse Gateway Hall of Fame

General January 14, 2014

“His greatest asset was his consistency. You could guarantee jumping a clear round.”J W

Born: 1968

Colour: Bay


SIRE: Ozymandias (TB)

DAM :Irish Draught mare

John Whitaker’s first thoughts on sight of this Irish bred gelding were that this may not be the  show jumper prospect  he was hoping for. The young gelding was Ryan’s Son standing at 16hh.  But it was this very talented athletic horse that proved to be a world class showjumper and who changed this eighteen year old Yorkshire teenager’s career practically overnight. John Whitaker went from a milkman on his family’s dairy to that of a world-class international sportsman. Together Ryan’s Son and Whitaker became the ones to watch on the local circuit, around Huddersfield and their partnership went from strength to strength for over 14 years.

Ryans Son Ridden in the same snaffle bit he came in as a four year old, this honest and brave Irish gelding for ten years became the highest earner in prize money and an Olympic silver team medallist while endearing himself to legions of fans worldwide.

Whitaker recalls about the gelding’s love of a good buck after the last fence “He was showing off. He knew he had finished by the applause and by feeling me switch off the pressure. He said: ‘that’s it, I have done it’, and bucked. It was off-putting, though, if the audience clapped after a difficult combination in the middle of a round, because he bucked then too, which would put you wrong for the next fence.” Horse and Hound

Other notable and prestigious wins include the Midland Bank Great Northern Championship, the Bass Grand National, and the Everest Double Glazing Championship. He was a winner at the Royal International Horse Show, Horse of the Year Show and Olympia and was the leading national money winner four times (1976, 1978, 1979 and 1983). In 1980. Ryan’s Son won the Irish Horse Board’s prize for the best horse bred in Ireland in his career as he had jumped nine double clear rounds in Nations Cups

Ryan’s Son and John Whitaker had many other defining moments of sporting glory from silver in European Championships to bronze in the World Championships. The Irish Sport Horse is renowned for competitive longevity and stamina. At 17 years of age Ryan’s Son cemented this characteristic of the Irish Sport Horse by winning the King George V cup.

Ryan’s Son and Whitaker won Hickstead in 1983 and it was at this historic derby in 1987 where Ryan’s Son had a fall that proved fatal. Ryan’s Son remains for many the heroic Irish gelding that jumped with heart and was the horse that was so transformative in the career of John Whitaker.


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