Stunning images from horse racing's photographer of the year

    (CNN)With man and beast straining every sinew against a backdrop of stunning scenery, it's no wonder the sport of kings lends itself to incredible photography.

    Whether it's gripping action, colorful crowd scenes or spectacular venues, horse racing offers a rich shooting gallery for photographers.
    Among the world's best is Edward Whitaker of the UK's Racing Post, who has been named racing's photographer of the year for the second consecutive time, his ninth overall.
      His latest accolade was for a portfolio of six stunning photographs taken over the last 12 months.
      Humble about his achievement, he says part of his success is down to his ability to pick a "balanced" portfolio which demonstrates the many different aspects of photography.
      "It's lovely to be recognized by your peers and I'm just very happy," he told CNN Sport, saying he already has his eyes on a 10th title.
      "It's just fortunate I'm quite good at picking which ones to submit."
      Edward Whitaker has been named horse racing photographer of the year on nine occasions.

      'Taking a photograph is simple'

      One of Whitaker's favorite photographs from the portfolio was taken of racehorse Tiger Roll, on his way to winning back-to-back Grand Nationals in April.
      Tiger Roll made a memorable late burst at Aintree and Whitaker's picture depicts the diminutive racehorse leaping over one of the track's infamous water jumps.
      However, despite the wonder horse in shot, he says the background is the real star of the show.
      "What really makes the picture is the birch hitting into the blue dyed water. There is so much life in the splash," he said, revealing the picture was taken remotely by a camera pointing up behind the fence.
      Finding the perfect backdrop is certainly a key element in Whitaker's approach and, in many cases, is more important than the jockeys and horses at the forefront.
      Whitaker jokes that finding the animals in beautiful settings is not so hard considering the wealth associated with the sport,
      "There are a lot of rich people in horse racing so the animals are often in very nice scenes which of course makes for great photographs," he said.
      "Taking a photograph is simple really. It's about the background primarily and then you wait for the subject."
      This is certainly true of another of his award-winning shots, which shows a racehorse silhouetted against a stunning mackerel sky.
      The picture was taken just before dawn at Philip Hobbs' racing yard on the west coast of England and, according to Whitaker, was a picture just waiting to happen.
      "I got there and saw this amazing sky, I could see what was going to happen but I just needed a horse," he said.
      "Luckily one was exercising so I grabbed the rider and asked if I could do the picture. I was lying underneath this ridge, shooting up at the sky and just waiting for it to walk by."
      Whitaker says that while dramatic skylines can make a great photograph, it sometimes comes at a cost.
      While snapping away at Lingfield Racecourse in May, Whitaker took a shot of horses racing towards a stormy sky.
      Despite it making his winning portfolio, he remembers taking the picture moments before it poured down with rain.
      "A lot of horse racing photography is living in your waterproofs, but those harsh, raw backgrounds make for great pictures with horses battling the elements," said Whitaker, whose father James was a well known royal writer and broadcaster in the UK.