Equestrianism: Whitaker's Derby triumph helps ease her Olympic pain

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The Independent Online

Ellen Whitaker put aside her disappointing failure to secure Olympic selection by jumping her usual flying round with 17-year-old Cortaflex Kanselier, gaining a convincing victory in the Bunn Leisure Derby Salver here on the opening day of the British Jumping Derby meeting.

She finished a comfortable 4.53sec ahead of Irishman Damien Griffin, who was runner-up on Lisegan Clover Diamond. After collecting her first prize in the international arena, 22-year-old Whitaker hurried to an outside ring where she rode Shearwater Mikado to a double clear round in a preliminary contest for the six-year-old championship. "That's my one for London 2012," she said.

Whitaker's hopes of contesting Beijing disappeared in Rotterdam last Friday when Locarno collected 24 faults in the first round of the Super League Nations Cup. The lapse could be explained by a mysterious skin rash (possibly a virus) but, since this contest had been scheduled as the stallion's only Olympic trial, the excuse made no difference. "It was the most horrible week of my life," Whitaker said of her time in the Netherlands. Though sound again after returning home, Locarno has not travelled here. If all goes well in today's Derby Trial, Whitaker will be riding Ocalardo in Sunday's DFS Derby.

Louise Pavitt, also aged 22, rode the Brendon Stud's Unbelievable Darco to win the Derby Tankard, defeating two more British women – Jo Pay on Randi's Gold and Gemma Paternoster on Osiris – in a three-horse jump-off.

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