Equestrianism: Whitaker out to build on Madrid win at Hickstead

Robert Whitaker is hoping to follow up last weekend's victory in the Madrid Grand Prix withsuccess on home soil when he competes in the British Jumping Derby meeting, which begins today at Hickstead, with the richest prize of £25,000 going to the winner of Sunday's Derby.

Robert Whitaker is hoping to follow up last weekend's victory in the Madrid Grand Prix withsuccess on home soil when he competes in the British Jumping Derby meeting, which begins today at Hickstead, with the richest prize of £25,000 going to the winner of Sunday's Derby.

The 21-year-old son of John Whitaker was on Nicolette when he won in Spain. At Hickstead he will rely on another mare, Qualite.

This year's Derby meeting has been moved from its usual slot in late August in order to fit in with television schedules and avoid clashing with the Olympics. Unfortunately, it now coincides with the Super League show in Lucerne, so there will be some notable absentees, among them Robert's uncle, Michael Whitaker, who has opted for the Swiss show because he is keen to secure one of Britain's two Olympic places.

Peter Charles saw his chances of a fourth consecutive Derby win diminished with the the sale and subsequent departure of Corrada from his Hampshire yard. The Irishman, who completed his Derby hat-trick with this grey mare last year, has entered Pershing and Alaska this time.

Victory for William Funnell on Buddy Bunn would be a real home triumph, since the horse is owned and bred by Douglas Bunn who also owns the Hickstead showground. Funnell's preparations have included a trip to the Netherlands to compete in the Eindhoven Derby, where he and Buddy Bunn finished third.

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