Whitaker stays 'steady' to win Derby jump-off

The wonderful 20-year-old Virtual Village Welham gave John Whitaker his third emotional victory in the British Jumping Derby yesterday, after completing two foot-perfect clear rounds. The 45-year-old rider and Keeley Durham's venerable horse received a standing ovation as they completed the winning jump-off round.

The wonderful 20-year-old Virtual Village Welham gave John Whitaker his third emotional victory in the British Jumping Derby yesterday, after completing two foot-perfect clear rounds. The 45-year-old rider and Keeley Durham's venerable horse received a standing ovation as they completed the winning jump-off round.

For the first time since 1993, there were three clear rounds over the marathon course of 16 fences. Tim Stockdale, who achieved the first of them on the chunky half-Shire horse, Traxdata Wiston Bridget, was clear again when opening the three-horse jump-off.

Stockdale had been told that nobody had jumped a double clear and failed to win the Derby, but this time was to prove the exception. After last year's victors - Rob Hoekstra and Lionel II - had one error in a faster time, Whitaker and Welham jumped the winning round.

Whitaker was aware that the crowds were urging him on. "As I came into the last I heard someone in the stands shouting 'steady, steady'," he said. The plea was, however, unnecessary. Whitaker, who was 9.06sec faster than Stockdale, had already taken a quick glance at the clock and he knew he had time to slow down for the last to get it right.

In a non-vintage year, riders could have expected to win with a clear opening round and Whitaker felt sorry for Stockdale and Hoekstra, who had both been faultless only to be defeated in the timed jump-off.

Welham's classic performance had partially eclipsed a marvellous effort from Stockdale's mount Wiston Bridget, who came down the bank as readily and neatly as any, as well as clearing all the fences. Stockdale put this down to training at home, where he had his own bank and dyke built. Despite defeat, he expressed delight with the mare's performance.

Whitaker's last victories were achieved in 1983 on 15-year-old Ryan's Son and 1998 on 21-year-old Gammon. "I think today was the best one of all," he said. "It's been the main goal all year for Welham and he's really fit. He didn't have much time to recover from the first round, but I think he was even better in the jump-off. This will definitely be his last Derby and it may be his last season."

Fourth place went to Ireland's Billy Twomey, whose only first-round error on Hilton, came at the last element of the influential Devil's Dyke where just six of the 29 starters left all three parts intact. Another Irishman, Cameron Hanley, was well fancied to win on Ballaseyr Twilight until the brave horse went down the 10ft 6in Derby Bank without a moment's hesitation, only to crumple on landing.

Paul Schockemohle, one of the Hickstead directors, received a phone call here yesterday to say that his great partner, Deister, had died in the morning at the age of 29. The horse won the Hickstead Derby twice and the European Championship three times.

TRAXDATA DERBY MEETING (Hickstead). Peugeot Derby: 1 Virtual Village Welham (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 86.56sec; 2 Traxdata Bridget (T Stockdale, GB) clear, 95.62; 3 Lionel II (R Hoekstra, GB) 4 faults, 92.93. Saturday: Traxdata Speed Derby: 1 Sublime (B Twomey, Irl) 102.09sec; 2 Harlem (G Williams, GB) 102.17; 3 Flip (I Kerr, Irl) 106.01. Hasseroder Trophy: 1 Traxdata Glenwood Springs (T Stockdale, GB) clear, 45.74sec; 2 Shearwater Gambit (D McPherson, SA) 8 faults, 51.82; 3 Lillebrore (H Luther, Ger) 12 faults, 48.72.

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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003