Following in his family footsteps, William Whitaker has won showjumping’s most coveted prize, taking the 2016 Equestrian.com Derby title at Hickstead.
Riding Glenavadra Brilliant, William was the only rider to leave all the fences up, but the roar of the crowd turned to moans of despair when one time penalty appeared on the scoreboard. With eleven still left to jump, had William done enough?
“I knew I was slow, but for a big horse he’s quite hot,” said William. “At the beginning of the course he was pulling me, so I had to take my time on the corners.
“He started to settle towards the end, and I was able to save a bit to time, but it was half second too little. Luckily for me it was enough today.”
Third last to go was Ireland’s Billy Twomey who was one of the favourites with Diaghilev after winning the Hamburg Derby last month. However, as in 2015, he had the first part of the Dyke down, to finish on four faults.
This put Billy in joint second place with Harriet Nuttall on A Touch Imperious and Richard Howley with Chinook.
“He jumped fantastic at Hamburg and we were second here last year, so I feel bit disappointed, but he jumped amazing,” said Billy. “William rode a copy book round, so it’s well deserved.
“This is my fifth time coming second in this class so I need to get my act together.”
Harriet also rode a superb round and it looked like she had done enough, but A Touch Imperious had the last down.
“He felt amazing,” said Harriet. “He was foot perfect, so to have the last fence was a bit gutting. But there is nothing more we could have done. It’s just one of those things.”
Last to go was Guy Williams, who has enjoyed many wins over the years at Hickstead – including the Derby in 2012. However, this wasn’t his year and after having three down he decided to retire Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof.
With no clears, this meant William was the outright winner on one time fault. His name now joins uncles John and Michael on the trophy, who have both won the Derby four times.
“It’s a class I’ve always really wanted to win,” said William. “I’m really pleased for the horse, as he’s always knocked on the door. He was second here last year and in other Derby’s around Europe, so it’s great to finally get the win.”