Equestrianism: Whitaker's Hickstead winner dies

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THE GERMAN-BRED Gammon, with whom John Whitaker won last year's Peugeot British Jumping Derby at Hickstead, has been put down at the age of 22. The gelding, who retired from show jumping in December, had been moved to Liverpool Veterinary Hospital but he had failed to respond to treatment for a torn rectum.

Whitaker acquired the dark brown gelding at the end of 1986 through the German rider and horse dealer, Axel Wockener, who once (unintentionally) rode down the 10ft 6in face of Hickstead's Derby Bank backwards. Gammon returned to Germany just six months later to win a big class at the 1987 Aachen Horse Show.

Owned by Whitaker's father-in-law, Malcolm Barr, Gammon won a total of pounds 570,653. His best grand prix victories were achieved at Grenoble (1988), Chaudfontaine (1989), Calgary (1992) and Arnhem (1993) - but it was his derby win at Hickstead last August that remains the most memorable.

At the time Whitaker's daughter, Louise, was Gammon's regular rider. It was only a few days before the contestthat John decided to give the old horse one last chance of improving on his three second places in the British Jumping Derby. This time Gammon won in a jump-off against Ireland's Capt John Ledingham on Kilbaha.