Equestrianism: Whitaker's confusing win

By Genevieve Murphy at Hickstead

MICHAEL WHITAKER and Virtual Village Ashley confirmed their good form (and, in the process, added to the confusion of the selectors) when winning yesterday's Derby Trial on the second day of the British Jumping Derby meeting.

Ashley, who also won here on Thursday, had a promising year on the international stage in 1996 as an eight-year-old. But he was less consistent last year. "Most horses run into a sticky patch and he wasn't as good for a while, but now he's really confident again," Whitaker said.

It would have been much easier for the selectors if Ashley had filled one of the top-three places on the series of British international team trials and so qualified for one of the five places in the squad for the World Equestrian Games to be held in Rome in October.

Had Ashley been at his best in the third trial, held at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show at the end of July, Whitaker would probably have qualified for the squad after winning the third (and toughest) trial here on Thursday. But the ground was wet and slippery in Hampshire and the horse, who hates such conditions, gained no points.

It has left the selectors in a horrible dilemma as to which top riders (and in-form horses) will have to be left out of the World Games.

Yesterday, Whitaker gained his fourth victory in the Derby Trial by achieving the only clear round and the fastest time in the six-horse jump-off. The Briton defeated the 23-year-old German, Christian Ahlmann, who had one jump-off error on Satan du Tremblay, and Damian Charles, who had two fences down on Romulus 16.

Peter Charles, the former European champion who rides for Ireland, is one of Damian's uncles. Another uncle, who runs the Padua Stud in the United States, bought Romulus for him to ride early this year and the partnership is clearly growing in confidence.

The Derby Trial was a qualifier for tomorrow's much richer British Jumping Derby, which carries a first prize of a pounds 20,000 Peugeot car and pounds 10,000. Michael Whitaker, who has won this annual classic on four previous occasions, will be riding Ashley in it for the first time. His elder brother, John, will also be on a first-timer when he rides nine-year-old Heyman, who had just one mistake in the opening round yesterday.

John Popely and last year's Derby winner, Bluebird, missed yesterday's jump-off with just one time fault. Popely, therefore, believes that his mare is on course for a repeat victory.

BRITISH JUMPING DERBY MEETING (Hickstead): Derby Trial: 1 Virtual Village Ashley (M Whitaker, GB) clear, 49.40sec; 2 Satan du Tremblay (C Ahlmann, Ger) 4 faults, 52.96; 3 Romulus 16 (D Charles, GB) 8 faults, 49.82.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent publishing and...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue