William Whitaker produced the solo clear jumping round to claim a British victory in the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby (26 June).
Riding the 13-year-old chestnut gelding Glenavadra Brilliant, the pair was the only combination in the field of 28 to keep all the poles intact — however picked up an unlucky one time-penalty.
“I’m obviously delighted, it is the one class I have always wanted to win. My horse has always been knocking on the door so I’m really pleased to finally win,” said William who is the third Whitaker, after Michael and John, to get his name on the Derby roll of honour.
“I’m happy for the horse too because he really deserves this win. I knew I was slow early on in the course but he’s quite a hot horse and was pulling a bit so I was taking time on the corners.”
After a deluge of rain, riders reported the ground as riding well considering the amount of rain that fell at the West Sussex venue.
Three riders shared the spoils for second place, with Irishmen Richard Howley (Chinook) and Billy Twomey (Diaghilev) and British rider Harriet Nuttall all finishing on four faults.
Riding A Touch Imperious, 26-year-old Harriet produced a foot-perfect round before having an agonising final fence down. But she was topping off a fruitful 2016 Hickstead Derby meeting having triumphed in Saturday’s British Speed Derby aboard Silver Lift.
“Having the last fence was gutting but it was just one of those things, he was foot-perfect really,” said Harriet.
Billy Twomey could not hide some disappointment after finishing joint-second. “This is the fifth time being second in the Derby so I really need to get my act together,” he added.
The Derby track produced a fair share of thrills and spills this year.
David Simpson and Rolo Tomasi experienced a fall at the bottom of the bank after the stallion launched from the bank too early.
Tim Stockdale’s mount Erasmus VD Heffinck said ‘no thanks’ at the top of the bank but Tim’s experience in the saddle nursed the gelding down the combination clear at a second attempt.