News From Hickstead's Derby Weekend

News From Hickstead’s Derby Weekend

Trevor Breen does Derby double

Irish rider Trevor Breen retains Boomerang Trophy in the 55th Equestrian.com Derby at Hickstead, West Sussex. Buckinghamshire-based Trevor, 36, was the only competitor to have not just one but two former winning rides to compete, and he was the firm favourite to retain the title he won for the first time twelve months previously. In 2014 he took home the famous Boomerang Trophy for the first time when riding the ‘one-eyed wonder horse’ Adventure De Kannan, but this year it was Trevor’s first ride, Loughnatousa WB, who netted the only clear round to take the title.

‘WB’, like Trevor, already has a Derby title to his name. He became the first horse to win the Derby under two different riders – the chestnut gelding having first won in 2012 under his previous rider, Paul Beecher. That year the horse won from the unfavourably early draw of first to go, and this year with Trevor he once again set the standard early on, jumping clear from a draw of seventh out of a field of 37 starters.

Britain’s William Whitaker became the first of five riders to finish on four faults with Glenavadra Brilliant; and he was followed by Irish Olympian Billy Twomey and his Hickstead Derby first-timer Diaghilev, who only knocked the first part of the Devil’s Dyke. As the class moved towards the business end, Steven Franks became the third of the four-faulters on Carlow Cruiser, a horse who has had a number of near-misses when it comes to winning the Hickstead Derby.

Trevor Breen was 33rd to go with his second ride, Adventure De Kannan, but hopes of both his rides going clear were dashed when ‘Addy’ ended up on eight faults. Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill – who were placed seventh here 12 months ago – also got four faults, so only the 2013 winner Phillip Miller (Caritiar Z) and Harriet Nuttall (A Touch Imperious) could push it to a jump-off.

But eight faults for Phillip and four for Harriet meant the title was Trevor’s for the second year in a row. “I knew I had a good chance because I was riding two former winners, but you never know and it’s such a tough course,” said Trevor. “It’s extremely difficult to win, and you need a lot to go right – and luckily everything did. I felt WB I was running out of petrol a bit towards the end so I was pleased I didn’t have to jump-off.”

Trevor also gave credit to his fellow Irishman Paul Beecher, who rode Loughnatousa WB to victory in the 2012 Derby. “Paul produced him his whole life so he has to take a lot of the credit – I’ve only ridden him for a year. It’s great for WB’s owner Patricia Brown, who is a huge supporter, and for Bernice Cuthbert who looks after Patricia’s horses.”

Harriet Nuttall was unlucky to have the first part of the Devil’s Dyke down to finish equal second with the other four-faulters. She has finished in runner-up spot in four major classes this week, but remained upbeat despite not taking home the winner’s cheque. “I’ve had the best weekend of my life. A Touch Imperious is just unbelievable, he has made my career, and I’d have paid good money to be second here,” she says. “I still think he has it in him to win. We’ll be back.”

Nigel Coupe, who also shared second prize along with Harriet, William Whitaker, Billy Twomey and Steven Franks, added: “As a sportsman you want to win and you want to see your name up on that board so it’s disappointing to have the four faults, but you’d definitely take that result.”

Earlier, Emma Stoker from County Durham fought off stiff competition from some of the best young showjumpers to win the Hickstead Under 25 Masters. Riding Tallulah V, Emma proved to be the fastest of only two double clears.

In the showing classes, Rebecca Lock won the Ready Supp Supreme Coloured Horse championship, taking the overall honours with the prolific traditional gelding Brickwell Mr Pickwick. Lynn Russell was reserve champion with Cleaghmore Boy.

Melton Mowbray-based rider Liz Harris won the Tattersalls and Retraining of Racehorses Thoroughbred Show Horse Championship, with the seven-year-old chestnut gelding Wild West, owned by herself and her partner Tommy Morgan. Liz, who was a former jockey and is now a Point-to-Point trainer, hailed the horse’s versatility, calling him the ‘ultimate all-rounder’. “He’s amazing, he’s so well behaved and loved it in that big arena,” she said.

The Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting has reached its conclusion after five superb days of top class equestrian sport. In total, more than 56,000 people watched the action via the new Hickstead.tv livestream, with viewers from 68 different countries tuning in from around the world. The action was also shown live to viewers in the UK and Ireland on the Horse & Country TV channel.

Hickstead Derby Weekend 2015Britain’s fastest-rising female stars dominate in Bunn Leisure Derby Trial

A huge class of Derby hopefuls came forward to compete in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial at Hickstead, with the top placings going to two of British Showjumping’s most promising lady riders, Holly Gillott and Harriet Nuttall. A total of 68 horses came forward for the €24,500 competition, from which the top 35 qualify for the Equestrian.com Derby, with seven combinations jumping clear to go through to the jump-off. The first rider to come forward in round two was Robert Whitaker, who has been on a great run of form of late, but he picked up four faults on the stallion USA Today. Spencer Roe and Wonder Why, a combination who represented Great Britain at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games, then netted a steady double clear in a time of 68.63sec to set the standard.

Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill, who were seventh in last year’s Equestrian.com Derby, knocked more than 4sec off Spencer’s time. They didn’t hold pole position for long, however, as Harriet Nuttall – third in the 2014 Derby – duly shaved another two seconds off the target time to take the lead.

Peter Smyth and Douglas Duffin both picked up four faults apiece, leaving only Holly Gillott who could oust Harriet from the top spot. This she duly did, producing a fast clear on her Team GB horse Dougie Douglas to win in a time of 61.72sec. “I always come second here!” said runner-up Harriet. “He’s not the fastest horse so I knew Holly would beat me,” she added, referring to her 11-year-old gelding A Touch Imperious.

Both Harriet and Holly have been regulars on Britain’s teams this season – and indeed Holly has her sights set on the FEI Nations Cup series with her 10-year-old gelding Dougie Douglas. “I will not be jumping him in the Derby, but I’m hoping to be here for the Nations Cup next month,” said the 26-year-old from Leicestershire. “It’s the best ring in the world to ride in by a mile – my horse was loving it today.”

But one rider who will definitely be coming back for another crack at the Equestrian.com Derby is Harriet. A Touch Imperious has proved he’s more than capable of jumping round the famously fearsome course, but there’s one jump that is set to prove the biggest challenge. “Riding my horse down the bank has to be the most daunting thing, he’s 17.2hh so it looks even more huge from up there!” she said. Harriet was once again runner-up in the afternoon’s main class, the Bunn Leisure Hickstead Master’s Challenge, which was won by Guy Williams and Casper De Muze.

In the showing classes, top producer Jayne Ross won the supreme cob championship with the prolific Cob In Hood; while the mountain and moorland supreme championship went to Alex Baxter and the fell pony Townend Candyman.

Photographs by George Gunn

Hickstead’s next international fixture is the Longines Royal International Horse Show, which runs from the 28 July to 2 August 2015.

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