'He's had a new lease of life,' Whitaker said of the outstanding German-bred 17-year-old who made his Wembley debut 12 years ago when he captured the premier novice award, the Foxhunter Championship. He went on to win world and European medals.
'I was doing too many speed classes with him recently, so I dropped him down on the county circuit.'
Drawn first of 10 in the final, Whitaker's only option was to lure the opposition into errors. Whitaker almost fell off before the second-last, but Hopscotch raced home with the only clear round in the fastest time.
The Derby bank debate continues, with Whitaker unsure whether to risk Henderson Gammon over the 10ft metal construction at the arena entrance that more resembles a cattle bridge across a motorway than the Hickstead version. It is part of today's new showpiece, the Everest Derby.
Liverpool-born Peter Charles, who rode for Ireland at Barcelona and was in their Dublin Nations Cup-winning team in July after changing his nationality this season, had show organisers in a stew when he won the National Grade B Championship on Gold Run II.
It was lucky for Charles that he qualified for the event, because the Irish Federation's request for an invitation for him had been refused on the grounds that he was not Irish enough. The Olympia show, the Volvo World Cup circuit and the IOC do not agree and are happy with Charles's credentials.
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