‘Thank you, Max’: farewell to Hickstead specialist 

  • William and James Whitaker have paid tribute to Hickstead Derby and Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner Glenavadra Brilliant, who has been put down aged 17.

    William told H&H the big chestnut had been on “fighting form”, but that, it is believed, he was suffering from a neurological issue, and despite vets’ best efforts, he had to be put down.

    “He didn’t suffer as it all happened so quickly,” he said. “That was tough for us, but better for him.”

    “Max” took William to his first Hickstead Derby win in 2016.

    “That was fantastic,” William said. “I’d always known he had it in him to do really well in the Derby; he loved it at Hickstead. When we got it done, I was delighted; for the horse and his owner.

    “It’s one of those classes like a championship; you only get one shot and so many good Derby horses haven’t won it so I was so pleased everything came together on the day.”

    William described Max as a “real character” and a yard favourite, whom he always looked forward to riding.

    “He always tried his best for you,” he added. “For a big horse, he always carried himself so well. We’re all devastated.”

    Max had a string of other good results, including winning the 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead with William’s brother James, who had taken over the reins.

    Continues below…

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    James said: “He was a larger than life character who left a big impression on anyone who came into association with him. He was bought from Ireland as a six-year-old by his late owner Calvin McDonald, and made his way over to our family farm in Yorkshire through our uncle Michael. From then on we could tell he had something about him – a certain charisma and drive to always try his very best at everything he did, and that never left him, right until the very end at the age of 17.

    “He had such a huge impact on all our lives and careers; he has left us with memories and wins we could never forget. Thank you to everyone who helped look after him during his lifetime and to Hird and Partners Shelf Equine Clinic for doing everything you could for him.

    “Our farm won’t be the same without you, Max. Thank you.”

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