Harriet Nuttall saw off reigning champion Matthew Sampson to win the Science Supplements Speed Derby at Hickstead today (Saturday 22 June).
Matt had been aiming for a third consecutive win with Topflight True Carlo, while Harriet was aiming to add a second win with Silver Lift, following their last victory in 2016.
The crowd at Hickstead was treated to an excellent display of sport, with the leaderboard changing frequently as the class progressed. Last year’s runner up Paul Crago (Valentino IX) delivered another fast round to take the lead before Brazil’s Carlos Motas Ribas and Brilexo shaved 2 sec off Paul’s time to go in front.
But Harriet – who has finished runner up three times in this class as well as winning in 2016 – knows exactly where she can make up time and save valuable seconds, and she produced a clear round with Silver Lift in a time of to put the pressure on her rivals.
Matt Sampson had the advantage of being drawn last to go, and he went all out in an attempt to cross the line quickest. He looked set to claim a third victory, but he knocked down the final fence to add four seconds to what would have been a record-breaking time, leaving him in second place.
“I’ve been runner-up a lot, so actually just to get two wins on him means so much,” said Harriet. “I seem to always come second, so I’m delighted to have another win under my belt.”
Asked about her strategy, Harriet said: “I just tried to cut corners as much as I could and keep a good rhythm; maybe my rhythm wasn’t as fast as it had been in previous years, but he was clear, and he actually hasn’t jumped the Speed Derby clear that many times.”
Harriet had a nervous wait to see if anyone could better her time, and for a moment it looked as if Matt had done enough. “When Matt had the last down, there was a big pause – he was so much faster than me that we didn’t know if the four seconds added would make the difference. But I edged it,” she added.
Harriet was delighted with her experienced campaigner Silver Lift, who is now 14 years old. “Silver Lift is such a cool horse. I try not to do so much with him now – I haven’t taken him to a show for three weeks. He’s not meant to be a showjumper at all, but he tries his heart out. He skims over the fences, and he’s careful and fast, which is what you need in a class like this. He’s the most fun horse I have on the yard; he’s a joy to ride.”
Matt was disappointed, but still pleased with his horse. “He’s a fantastic horse, and he loves that arena. I think he got a little bit tired at the end, maybe with the heat, but he’s jumped the class seven times, and he’s been in the top five seven times so you can’t knock him really.”
In the CMH.TV Masters Trophy, Guy Williams was in dominant form with Rouge De Ravel. Having won yesterday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Two Phase, Guy made it clear that the £26,000 World Ranking Class today was his main aim.
With a large field of 62 starters, it wasn’t going to be easy – especially when 15 of those went clear in the first round to ensure a competitive jump-off.
But with the advantage of a later draw, Guy was able to slice nearly five seconds off the leading time to finish on 40.91sec. No one could come close to matching it, and Williams was able to claim the prize he’d set out to win this week.
“When I set off from home, I knew we could win today,” said Guy. “There’s not many that can beat him when he’s going like that, and he knows when he has to win too, definitely.
“You have to ride him at his own pace and let him run – he’s very careful. He very rarely has a fence. If you watch him jump he’s the perfect model – he’s quick off the floor, very good in front, tight behind, and so light on his feet.”
Hickstead-based Georgia Tame had a home victory today when claiming the coveted Al Shira’aa Under 25 Masters.
Georgia and the 10-year-old gelding Clintofino sped around the 1.45m track to finish on a time of 36.75 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than their nearest rivals, international eventer Chuffy Clarke and Dirk II.
The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting draws to a close on Sunday, finishing with the feature class – the Al Shira’aa Derby at 2.45pm. The action will be streamed live on ClipMyHorse.TV and Hickstead.TV.