James Whitaker (pictured) has won the BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead’s Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) meeting – becoming the first Whitaker to get his name on the prestigious trophy.
James was one of two riders to jump a double clear, alongside event rider Pippa Funnell who took the runner-up spot.
Both were on former family rides – with James on Glenavadra Brilliant, who won the Hickstead Derby with his elder brother William in 2016, while Pippa was riding husband William Funnell’s European gold medallist partner Billy Congo.
A tricky first round saw just four riders go clear, with James competing against three female riders. The class used to be an international class open to women only, but changed in 2008 to become a national class that both men and women could enter.
Pippa was first to go in the jump-off and produced a lovely clear in a time of 54.34sec, to put pressure on her rivals.
Next in was Alison Barton, who had her hopes dashed when Roma IV picked up four faults.
James used Glenavadra Brilliant’s long stride to cross the finish line on 52.97 seconds and take the lead. Last to go was Helen Tredwell and Larksong, who were more than two seconds faster, but the final fence fell which cost them the win.
James celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, so he also picked up the Cindy Mead Memorial Trophy for the best placed rider under 25.
‘Dream come true’
James and Glenavadra Brilliant had a good result in their Al Shira’aa Derby debut last month, finishing fifth, but this was their first international win at Hickstead.
“He loves big grass arenas like this, and he always seems to perform well here,” said James, who is the nephew of legendary showjumpers John and Michael.
“When I saw Pippa go I thought there’s no way I’m going to beat that! It’s unreal — a dream come true. Winning a class like this was definitely on the bucket list.”
Watch the Royal International Horse Show on H&C by signing up to Horse & Country now. Here’s what’s on, when:
RIHS 2018: Queen Elizabeth Cup jumping Sunday August 5 at 8pm (all times EST)
RIHS 2018: British Speed Classic jumping Wednesday August 8 at 7pm
RIHS 2018: Supreme Ridden Championship showing Sunday August 12 at 7.30pm