Huddersfield showjumper William Whitaker has added his name to the history books.
And he has become the third member of the Whitaker dynasty to win one of the most prestigious showjumping titles in the world.
Whitaker recorded a lucrative win in the world renowned Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby riding 13-year-old Glenavadra Brilliant, who is owned by his dad Ian Whitaker and Calvin McDonald.
The pair saw off stiff competition from some of the world’s elite showjumpers, and despite incurring a single time fault, they were the only pair to get a clear round on the unique track.
In doing so to clinch the title he followed in the footsteps of his uncles, Michael and John Whitaker who had each won the Derby twice.
William grew up surrounded by horses and has competed since he was a child, winning a Horse of the Year Show title in 2001 aged just 12.
Whitaker, 26, said: “I’m obviously delighted - it’s one of the classes I’ve always really, really wanted to win. I’m pleased with my horse, he’s always knocked on the door, and been second in numerous other derbies around Europe, so to finally get the win today I’m really, really pleased.
“The more times you ride that course the better it is because the more experience you get. I’m really pleased for the horse because he deserved to win one.
“He’s obviously not fazed by natural jumps, he’s strong and scopey, and he’s got a lot of stamina; when he jumped the last fence he almost felt as if he could have done it again.
“I had a lot of faith in him – every time he’s jumped the Derby and had a fault there’s been a reason for it – it’s not laziness. Last year I was just too quick off the bank and the same in Hamburg, so I made sure I took my time a bit more.
“I always hoped he’d win a derby. I knew I was slow quite early on but for a big horse he’s quite hot, so I was having to take my time on the corners to slow him down whereas at the end when he settled into the course I could let him go on a bit.”
He paid homage to his family, adding; “They were very pleased, just biting their nails to see what the others did. It’s a bit surreal; I’m just happy for everyone around me – my partner Elisabeth, my parents, my brothers, the owners and all the team at home.”
Despite recent relocation to Belgium, William still keeps half of his horses at the Huddersfield base run by younger brothers George and James, who look after the yard he established having moved from his Uncle Michael’s.
The Hickstead Derby is one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious showjumping competitions. The fences include the 10ft 6in Hickstead Derby Bank and the Devil’s Dyke, the double of water ditches, and one of the widest water jumps in the world.