The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, 22 – 25 June 2017
Another Fabulous Show!
By Stephanie DeWitt Photography Julian Portch #hickstead
On the first day of competition in Hickstead's International Arena, the ladies were to the fore. Holly Smith (née Gillott) won the Derby Tankard with her own 9 year-old bay gelding, Quality Old Joker.
This was Holly's first international show since badly breaking a leg last winter and being off sick for three months. Hence she felt that her horse was still not in the condition she would have liked but he still managed to jump well.
"There weren't many clears, so I thought I would have a go," said Holly. "I saw Billy Twomey and Eindhoven GH go clear and I knew my horse could be faster. We beat him by more than a second."
Earlier Louise Saywell took the Stoner Jewellers Vase on Peiter VI while Chloe Winchester was top of the Hickstead Novice Championship riding Sportsfield Our Clare. Max Routledge was the only successful male rider with wins in the Hickstead Annual Grade C Championship and the Astore & Sons 1.35m Open Championship on Centos Girl and Lord of Arabia respectively.
Chloe Winchester continued her winning streak on Friday by taking the Clean Sheet 1.25m Open Championship with Dolanda, while Pippa Goddard was top in both the British Five Year-old and Six Year-old Jumping Championships riding Hot Bluebird and Zoon van London respectively.
In the Alltech Small Show Hunter class, Katie Jerram-Hunnable and Elizabeth Ahern's 6 year-old grey EPA Sonny Bill executed an excellent gallop for the judges to become Supreme Champion with Helen Newbold on Charles Dixey's Allithorne standing in reserve.
Right at the end of the new Bunn Leisure Derby Two-Phase competition, Ireland's Peter Moloney and Ghana easily romped round clear in the fastest time of 37.69 seconds, beating Joe Whitaker on Diola into second place.
The big class of the day, the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, was won for a record sixth time by Michael Whitaker riding the 15 year-old Viking, the only clear round of three in the jump-off. William Whitaker and last year's Derby winner, Glenavadra Brilliant, posted a faster time but sadly lowered a pole to finish in second.
"I brought Viking specially for this class," said Michael. "This tough course suits him. He's not spooky but a bit sharp and nervy. He's getting easier and more rideable as he gets older. He was a bit wild when he was younger!"
* * * * * * *
Michael Whitaker - Derby Trial Wins
1983 - Disney Way
1985 - Warren Point
1990 - Henderson Monsanta
1998 - Virtual Village Ashley
2010 - GIG Amai III
2017 - Viking
* * * * * * *
Jane Annett was delighted with Chacco Gold's win in the Templant Hire Beethoven 7 & 8 Year-old Championship on Saturday, more than five seconds faster than second-placed Peter Moloney on Compelling Z. In contrast, the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy was a needle match between Guy Williams on Rouge de Ravel, clear in 43.02 seconds, and David Simpson with Keoki only seven tenths of a second behind.
Having won the Speed Derby in 2014 and 2015, Guy and Casper de Muze had to be content with third place this year.
"I knew I couldn't catch Matt, so I tried to beat Derek (McCoppin) instead!" laughed the ever-competitive Guy.
Last year's winners, Harriet Nuttall and Silver Lift, took second rosette and would have won again if a pole hadn't fallen. But it was Matt Sampson who took top honours riding Christine Spanner's chestnut gelding Topflight True Carlo.
"I'm speechless!" said Christine. "I can't thank Matt enough - it's an absolute dream come true! He's my one and only horse and lives in a field. I bought him when he was 5 months old and now he's 13. I rode him every day and did everything with him till I got too old!"
Although Matt had ridden the horse three years ago, he only got the ride in the Speed Derby the day before.
"I just walked him out this morning," said Matt. "He's better when he's fresh. In the ring I just tried to go as fast as I could and luckily everything came right."
For the third year running the winner of the Hickstead Ladies Side Saddle Classic on the last day was the 17 year-old chestnut Penstrumbly Our Abram, elegantly ridden by his owner, Esther Rostron. Southerly Roberts rode the ex-flat racehorse Imperial Ruby to be Champion in the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Series with Reserve going to Katie Jerram-Hunnable on Singing Hinnie from the National Hunt section.
Matt Sampson was in the ribbons again in the Osborne Refrigerators Celebrity Scurry, partnering Alison Tucker driving Chip'n'Dale to victory, while Jake Saywell on Havinia van de Roshoeve won the Hickstead Under 25 Masters, the faster of only two clear rounds in the competition.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house, including that of rider Trevor Breen, as the one-eyed champion of many top classes, Adventure de Kannan, was ceremoniously retired. With his saddle removed and wearing a garland of carrots and apples, Addy was led from the ring by Trevor through a guard of honour of Hickstead coursebuilders and officials.
The title class of the meeting, the Al Shira'aa Derby, produced lots of thrills and spills. Only two clear rounds were posted, forcing a jump off between Nigel Coupe on Susan Simmons' Golvers Hill and Harriet Nuttall with A Touch Imperious. Golvers Hill lowered the Derby Rails for four faults in 90.73 seconds; A Touch Imperious also took down the Derby Rails as the crowd held their breath. But the final fence also fell for Harriet who finished runner-up again, less than a second behind Nigel.
Preston-based Nigel, who first came to Hickstead in 1984 jumping ponies in the outer rings, was really pleased to have won the biggest class of his life, lifting both the Boomerang Trophy and the new annual Al Shira'aa trophy which he will keep.
"It's a case of who is best on the day," he said. "There are probably more talented horses out there but Ricky loves the job. My name will be on that list of legends now - no one can take that away!"
Every year the showground at Hickstead is altered and improved; the latest sponsorship has given the All England Jumping Course even more of the WOW factor!
Representing Al Shira'aa, Kate Moisson commented, "The collaboration between the Bunn family and Al Shira'aa should continue for many years."
© Julian Portch
© Julian Portch
© Julian Portch