John Whitaker (pictured right) scored his second victory of the 2007 Hickstead Derby meeting when he and Mandy Hall’s Casino headed a three-horse jump-off for Saturday’s Falcon Equine Feeds Derby Trophy.

In a reverse of the previous day’s positions, John and the big Irish-bred bay beat his niece Ellen on Cortaflex Kanselier, with Peter Charles third on Murka’s Johnny Jumper.

John was pleased with Casino, but feels it is a year early to try him in the Derby.

“He didn’t seem to worry about the going,” he said, referring to the rain-softened ground, “but I think he’d be better to try the Derby next year, when he has a year’s more experience under his girth.”

Earlier in the day, Tina Fletcher again proved husband Graham’s wisdom in buying back Laura’s Choice by adding a win in the two-phase challenge to her area 38 grand prix victory the previous weekend.

“He jumped well in the heavy conditions,” said Graham.

The £500 first prize in the Julia Lee Amateur Championship went to the sole first-round clear by local rider Amelia Geer on Lukas, but there was an entertaining six-pony jump-off for the 148cm title. This again stayed in Sussex, courtesy of Jessie Drea, whose fabulous double clear on Quantum Light held off Rebecca Roe and Aroldo by almost 2sec.

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