Doyle claims Hickstead victory
A jump-off was required to determine the winner of the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Irish showjumper Keith Doyle became only the third male rider to win Hickstead's prestigious Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Doyle, riding Walk Tall II, prevailed after a five-horse jump off that included two members of the famous Whitaker family, cousins Robert and William.
His time of 50.14 seconds nudged 2000 Sydney Olympian Geoff Billington and Uppercut II into second spot, with Phillip Miller and Caritiar Z third.
Miller recorded comfortably the quickest jump off time, more than two seconds in front of Doyle, but one fence down cost him the Â£3,000 top prize.
The Queen Elizabeth II Cup was an exclusive domain of female riders until 2008, and lists showjumping greats like Pat Smythe, Ann Moore and Marion Mould among its previous winners.
But since it went 'open' five years ago, three male riders have now triumphed - Hampshire-based Doyle, Daniel Moseley and Shane Breen.
"The horse has done well on the county circuit this year," Doyle, 41, said.
"We bred him at our yard, and he was always the pick of the bunch, to be honest. He's 10 now, and he makes my job quite easy. I was thinking about having a go in the jump off, for sure. A jump off situation kind of suits him, and I was very pleased with the two clear rounds. The win was a bonus, really."
London 2012 showjumping course designer Bob Ellis' track posed plenty of problems for a 26-strong field, especially the water jump. Eleven combinations either refused it or had a foot in the water, with the list of victims including British Nations Cup regulars Will Funnell and Guy Williams.
Ireland, winners of the Nations Cup on Saturday, had further success in the Sky Sports Speed Classic. Richie Moloney, who jumped two Nations Cup clear rounds, looked to have done enough for victory, but he was denied by his fellow Irishman Shane Breen.