Hans-Günter Winkler was born to a man in West Germany, who was a riding instructor to jockeys. This being the case, it was only natural for him to become a jockey himself, and one of the leading ones of our time at that.
With obvious family support and a great trainer for a father, Hans had the opportunity of a lifetime, being accustomed to horses and to jockey training from an early age. That is not to suggest that things were any easier for the champion. It is often assumed that the children of people in a particular profession have it easy to get into the same line.
This may be somewhat correct as far as an early encouragement towards the profession goes, but it doesn’t imply that any less hard work was put into it from the individual’s perspective. Like they say, you can take a horse to the water (no pun intended), but you can’t make him drink it.
Leadership qualities come with hard work, and there are no two ways about it. It takes a huge effort to attain a solid position in life, whatever the field you choose. It takes a mammoth effort to become a leader in your field, and it takes more than that to maintain that position.
Hans-Günter Winkler is one such man, a true champion of our time. He is one of four people ever to have walked this planet to have won medals in six different Olympics. Given the fact that the Olympic Games are held once in every four years, it implies the man was able to sustain his position as a jockey, and in the top division, for 24 years!
This is at the Olympic level, apart and after the years spent in smaller competitions leading to his first Olympics, and years of training before that. He has won Five Olympic titles (gold), in 1956, 1960, 1964 and in 1972 in the team category, and the individual competition in 1956. It comes to us as no big surprise to know that the most successful horse ever to run in the Olympics, the Halla was ridden by Hans-Günter Winker during the team competitions and his individual wins in 1960.
Hans Günter Winkler also shares the title of ‘most championship titles’ with Raimondo d’lnzeo from Italy, for his (formers) wins in 1954-55. Truly a remarkable position to attain in one’s life. This man’s list goes on!
There’s an interesting story about a horse called Rappel. During the 40’s and 50’s, horses were being sold as payment for machinery all over Germany, in other words horses was losing their importance in society to a limit at least. This horse was so destined that a breeder called Karl Heinz Schuldt, who named her as Romanus and then sold her to the remarkable jockey Hans-Günter Winkler, bought it!
Winkler quickly saw the great potential in this young 170 cm dapple grey, and got him into the 150m category at the age of six! This horse’s period of limelight came in the sixties, when Hans show jumped him, and successfully won the silver, bronze and team-silver at Aachen (European Championships) in 1961, London in 1962 and in Rome n 1963. It is because of the success of this period that Romanus was given the title of the most deserving show jumper from Germany, twice! The perfect companion, for a champion master jockey! Not bad for a horse that had no place for himself in the 50s!
Hans Winkler married Deborah Ann Malloy, an Equestrian with a similar family background as himself, who show jumps in Europe. Her parents own a farm in Waccabuc, where they own and breed thoroughbreds.
Hans-Günter Winkler now owns a stable of show jumping horses in Warendorf, in his homeland Germany. He also plays the role of ‘president’ at H.G.W. marketing, who arranges show jumping events and competitions all over Europe. It is interesting to note that he was an important catalyst in the making of the famous jockey Hauke’s career. Hauke trained with Hans-Günter during his early years.
Hans Günter made his family and country proud with his Olympic achievements, made a success out of the horses he rode, and helped shape the career of various young jockeys who could keep him as a role model, and later went on to organize competitions for show jumping. Through these long years of riding, training and becoming a success, Hans Günter has proved his love for the sport by supporting it towards the mature years of his career and still being a part of what he loves best – show jumping!
1956 Stockholm Olympic Games – Gold (2)
1960 Rome Olympic Games – Gold
1964 Tokyo Olympic Games – Gold
1968 Mexico City Olympic Games – Bronze
1972 Munich Olympic Games – Gold
1976 Montreal Olympic Games – Silver