Meet the 2016 Hickstead Derby winner William Whitaker

  • Following William Whitaker's Hickstead Derby win this weekend (26 June) with the 13-year-old chestnut gelding Glenavadra Brilliant, find out what makes the 26-year-old tick — from his favourite TV show to his biggest indulgence

    What do you like watching on TV?

    Match of the Day, but I really enjoy watching all top-level sport. My favourite TV series is Breaking Bad.

    What mistakes have you learnt from?

    I remember going to Arena UK, which was about two hours from home, with six ponies and forgetting every morsel of tack. As you can imagine, my dad Ian wasn’t amused. I borrowed a saddle and bridle from my cousin Joe Clayton and used that on every pony.

    I also remember when I tacked my horse up, jumped on and rode down to the arena. I was walking around talking to my brother Jim for 10 minutes when he asked, “Why haven’t you got a girth on?” All I can say is it’s a good job the horse didn’t buck.

    What is your favourite show?

    It has to be Olympia. It’s a great time of year, the crowds are amazing and all my family are there. The Liverpool International Horse Show made an amazing debut this year, too. It’s a great location and a must for next year.

    How do you like to relax?

    I like to spend time with the family, doing fun things with my kids Isabella and Oliver, like going to the zoo. We went on holiday to Tenerife in January and it was great playing on the beach in the sunshine.

    What is your favourite city?

    My favourite city is London. My fiancée Elisabeth and I have been down a few times as tourists and it’s great fun.

    Who was your first pony?

    Peter Pan was an extremely lazy 12.2hh. I once went to an RSPCA show wearing three-inch spurs and holding a big whip. At the ring, there was a sign saying “no spurs or sticks” and I didn’t get out of walk for the entire class.

    What is your biggest indulgence?

    Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream. I could eat a bucketful of it.

    What is the best event after party you have been to?

    The parties at the Glock Horse Performance Centre CSI3* show in Austria are amazing, and the food and entertainment are incredible.

    What is your earliest horsey memory?

    Going to Olympia when I was a kid and watching top riders, and then trying to copy them on my ponies in the field.

    What is your money-saving secret?

    Sell all your horses and take up golf.

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    If you hadn’t been a showjumper, what would you have done?

    I would have been a farmer. I have lived on a farm all my life and I enjoy doing jobs on the farm, especially in lambing season.

    Don’t miss the full report from the Hickstead Derby in the 30 June issue of Horse & Hound magazine

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