William Whitaker wins the Hickstead Derby

William Whitaker left all the fences standing to take the 2016 Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby on the aptly-named Glenavdra Brilliant.

He rode a fantastic clear, keeping the Irish-bred Brilliant on a beautiful rhythm all the way round, but was just a fraction over the time allowed, one time fault marring their copybook round.

He follows his uncles Michael and John – who have both won the famous class four times each – to have his name on the iconic Boomerang Trophy, and he makes it the third Whitaker to win this historic class.

William, drawn 24th of 34, had a nail-biting wait as the final 10 riders attempted to oust him from the top spot with a clear. But his luck and brilliant, super-cool riding prevailed and William claimed his dream win. It was a 3-2-1 – William and Brilliant – a 13-year-old with Brilliant Lad/Powerswood Purple bloodlines – finished third in 2014 and second in 2015. This year was his.

“It’s one of the classes I’ve always wanted to win and my horse is always knocking on the door. He’s strong and scopey with lots of stamina, when he jumped the last he almost felt as if he could have done it again,” said William. “This has been our target all year, he’ll have a good break now.”

The win was timely – William marries fiancée Elisabeth Fredlund, mother of his two children Bella and Ollie, in August.

Three riders shared second on four faults. First off Richard Howley hit the first part of the dyke with Chinook III as did fellow Irishman Billy Twomey and Diaghilev. And Harriet Nuttall jumped a gabulous round only to tap out the front rail of the final oxer with A Touch Imperious.

Alfie Bradstock headed the Hickstead under 35 Masters 1.50m on the Douglas/Silverstone eight-year-old Hello Disckoboy DN, posting on of only two double clears with just 0.09 sec to spare to win.

Amy Inglis on Wishes took second with Ireland’s Michael Duffy in third on ESI Hazel. Bryony Ward claimed fourth with Ashley Pilleyn in fifth on Calafornia.

Photo © Hickstead/Craig Payne Photography