William Whitaker wins Hickstead Derby on Glenavadra Brilliant
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 26/06/16 6:55pm
William Whitaker became the third member of Britain's most famous showjumping family to be crowned Hickstead Derby champion following a superb performance at the West Sussex arena.
The Equestrian.com Derby Meeting reached a thrilling conclusion as 26-year-old Yorkshireman Whitaker held his nerve on Glenavadra Brilliant to go one better than last year, when he was a runner-up behind Ireland's Trevor Breen.
Breen was seeking a Derby hat-trick, having entered his two previous winners Loughnatousa WB and Adventure De Kannan, but Whitaker was not to be denied this time.
They were the only combination from more than 30 starters not to have a fence down, conquering such imposing challenges as the Derby Bank and Devil's Dyke in style.
One fault collected for being just over the allowed time of 180 seconds did not matter in the end, although Somerset-based Harriet Nuttall suffered an agonising final fence mishap.
Nuttall, bidding for a rare Hickstead Speed Derby and Derby double in the same year, looked all set to go clear on A Touch Imperious, but the last rail went down and her chance was gone.
Nuttall finished equal second with Irish pair Richard Howley (Chinook) and Billy Twomey (Diaghilev), with Whitaker taking a £37,000 top prize and emulating his uncles - British Olympians John and Michael Whitaker - who hold the record of four Hickstead Derby wins alongside Harvey Smith and Eddie Macken.
Reflecting on his victory, Whitaker said: "I am obviously delighted. It's one of the classes I've always really, really wanted to win.
"I am pleased with my horse. He has always knocked on the door, and been second in numerous other derbies around Europe, so to finally get the win today, I'm really pleased.
"The more times you ride the course the better it is because the more experience you get.
"He is a strong and scopey horse, and he's got a lot of stamina. When he jumped the last fence he almost felt as if he could have done it again. I always hoped he would win a derby."