Ireland’s David Simpson had his first major win in Hickstead’s International Arena today, taking the honours in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial.
Tactics came to the fore in the jump-off, when David (riding Gotti Van Paemel) faced two rivals in the form of William Funnell (Billy Onslow) and Shane Breen (Acoustik Solo Du Baloubet). First to go was William, who finished in a time of 64.30sec, but knocked one fence to finish on four faults. Hickstead-based Shane Breen picked up an unfortunate eight faults, paving the way for David to go for a steady clear.
“He’s not fast, but he’s really careful,” explained David. “I decided if the lads went clear I’d jump a few fences and pull him up and give him a pat, because I knew I’d come third and then I could save him for the Derby. But when they had fences down I knew I could jump a clear round.”
David is hopeful that the horse can continue his winning streak in the Equestrian.com Derby, the feature class of this meeting.
“He was really good in the Derby last year, but took a real dislike to the hedge for some reason, so I immediately went home and built a hedge to train over and he’s fine now. This is the best chance I’ve ever had in the Derby, I just need to get him freshened back up and feeling as good as he does today.”
David shares a yard near Horsham with his fiancée Louise Pavitt, the winner of yesterday’s Stoner Jewellers Vase speed class. The pair have two young children and are getting married in August.
“It’s really nice to win a class here, actually – usually it’s Louise who wins,” joked David. “We’ve been at our new yard for about two years now and the horses are all really happy and settled. They seem to have hit a good run of form and we have a great bunch of owners.”
In the Hickstead Master’s Challenge – where riders tackle a timed course before a series of white gates of ascending heights, it was Britain’s Guy Williams who won for the second year in a row with the chesnut Casper De Muze.
“Casper is brave, careful and a very good gate jumper. He is a Grand Prix horse demoted to a speed horse, so he wins a lot,” said Guy.
Several showing classes reached their conclusion in the International Arena, with leading show producer Jayne Ross scoring a double of wins. She took the Ready Supp Supreme Cob Championship with Cob in Hood, as well the Alltech Small Show Hunter Championship with Hello Dolly. Hannah Horton was the Blue Chip Native BSPS Heritage Supreme Champion with the eight-year-old Connemara mare Slieve Bloom Jill.
“She never ever lets me down. She’s a show girl – the bigger the occasion the better she goes. She didn’t put a foot wrong today and it feels amazing to win at Hickstead,” said Hannah.
The highlight of tomorrow’s showjumping is the British Speed Derby, which is a single-round timed class that takes in many of Hickstead’s fixed obstacles. Guy Williams has won this class for the past two years running, again with Casper De Muze, and has now clocked up a total of four wins, so this year he will be aiming for a record fifth victory. But Harriet Nuttall - runner-up in this class in 2015 - will no doubt be doing her best to beat Guy and claim her first international title here at Hickstead.
Tickets are on sale online or at the gate, or you can watch via the livestream at www.hickstead.tv
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