Nicole finishes Hickstead season on a high with Grand Prix win

Nicole Lockhead Anderson ended her Hickstead season on a high by adding the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix title to her impressive collection.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 9:55 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 9:56 am
Nicole Lockhead Anderson wins the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix at The Science Supplements All England September Tour, Hickstead. Picture by Elli Birch/BootsandHooves

The Scottish rider was on dominant form at the Longines Royal International Horse Show back in July, netting an impressive three International Arena wins.

She has continued to impress at the Science Supplements All England September Tour, winning a 1.40m Open class earlier this week before going on to take the title in Sunday’s feature 1.40m Grand Prix.

Both wins came courtesy of the eight-year-old mare Azolette. “What a horse! She just gives me everything,” said Nicole, who is based in Leicestershire as the stable jockey for Olympian Holly Smith.

“She is so feisty and puts her heart on the line and wants to do it, which makes the job so easy for me. I can just let the handbrake off and off she goes.

"She is only an eight-year-old so it was a big ask today but I thought I’d just go as quick as I can, and she just loves the big arena and the big occasion.”

Fourteen riders from 51 starters made it through to the jump-off, with Gemma Ellison qualifying three horses for the second round and Harriet Biddick bringing two forward.

Gemma led for most of the jump-off with Fernhill Off Chance, until Nicole shaved nearly two-and-a-half seconds off the leading time.

Harriet Biddick’s second ride Night of Glory OL was the fastest of the lot but a fence down cost her what would have been her second All England Grand Prix title, though she did finish in eventual fourth with Galway Bay Jed.

Last week’s Grand Prix winner Trevor Breen – whose grand slam bonus hopes were dashed when Highland President had a late fence down in the first round – came closest to Nicole’s time but was still a second in arrears on board Escapade H to finish runner-up.

Nicole also took second place in the first class of the day, the Billy Stud Auction All England Novice Championship, riding Mr QT.

The win went to Alex Bishop and Nobelle Casscania for the second week in a row, having won the same class in week one of the Tour.

Next stop for the British-bred mare is to go to Lanaken for the six-year-old final at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses.

Jay Halim has collected almost as many Hickstead winners' rugs this season as Nicole has, and he added another to his collection, just 24 hours after lifting the Science Supplements 1m Open grand slam bonus.

His victory came in the final class of the meeting, the LeMieux All England 1.30m Open Championship, riding the 11-year-old bay mare Winning Moon.

His super quick jump-off time saw him go more than two seconds faster than Trevor Breen and Toyger in second.

A brand-new ride for Derek McCoppin saw him take victory in The EQ Horseboxes All England 1.20m Open Championship.

He was one of eight in the jump-off, and the fastest of three double clears to take the title on the 12-year-old Banderas.

“I only started riding him this week, and he won on the first day, was placed on Friday and has won the final,” said Derek.

Saturday's feature class, the Douglas Bunn 1.35m Challenge, saw 20 riders come forward to tackle the course, which features many of Hickstead's most famous obstacles including the less steep side of the bank.

It went down to the wire between Darren Wise (Midnight Time) and eventual winners Poppy Stronge and Las Vegas 200, who crossed the finish just 0.21 seconds ahead of Darren.

Las Vegas 200 was formerly evented by reigning world champion Ros Canter, but he wasn’t keen on the dressage phase.

“He’s done a lot of showjumping since, but he’s never done a class like that so it’s really exciting to do something different. You never know, he could be a future Derby horse!” added Poppy.

Arianna Kuligowski became the first ever Science Supplements Grand Slam winner at Hickstead on Saturday.

She picked up a bonus prize to the value of £3,000 for winning the Science Supplements 1.20m Amateur Championship for the second week in a row, riding her talented and consistent eight-year-old mare Ivascalle.

Four riders made it through to the jump-off, but Arianna’s perfectly timed round saw her go nearly two seconds quicker than runner-up Hannah Tiley (Capistelle JX).

“She is quite literally my princess, I’ve had her since she was three and our journey together has been amazing,” said Arianna.

“It’s one thing trying to win last week but to win this week as well is unbelievable. I felt a little bit of pressure but I tried to block it out and concentrate on my round.”

But not to be outdone, the second of the grand slam contenders Jay Halim managed to see off his rivals in a 15-strong jump-off to take his bonus as well.

International showjumper Jay was the reigning Science Supplements 1m Open Champion after winning the class in 2020 with Billy Cointreau.

Last week the pair claimed the 1m Open title yet again to put themselves in Grand Slam contention, then in the final a perfectly-timed round from a penultimate draw saw them net the crucial win, and with it the bonus prize.

Prospective showjumping stars were out in force as the Al Shira’aa championships for four, five, six and seven-year-olds reached their conclusion.

With bonus prizes up for grabs for whoever topped the points league in their respective age class, the competition was fierce.

On Sunday the seven-year-olds took centre stage. Sally Goding and her mare Spring Willow were the fastest of the nine combinations in the jump-off, finishing almost a second faster than Bunty Howard and Glenn Miller II.

“There was a strong field in the jump-off but she likes going fast, so I was able to take the handbrake off and go for it,” said Sally.

The Al Shira'aa Hickstead 7 Year Old of the Year title - which is decided on points accumulated over the Al Shira'aa young horse series at Hickstead this season - went to Peter Moloney and Pepper D'Or.

Last to go in Saturday's Al Shira’aa 6 Year Old final was Ireland’s Michael Duffy, who produced a masterful jump-off round on Pablo Van He Geinsteinde to shave more than a second off John Crippen’s leading time.

"It was a really good class and a great series here at Hickstead," said Michael, who got the horse as a three-year-old.

"He's super talented and still has quite a bit to learn," said Michael. "My father produced him back in Ireland and I only picked him up on Monday!"

Though he had to settle for runner-up spot in the 6 Year Old final with Science Supplements BP Ko Jax, John Crippen did take the top spot in the Al Shira’aa 5 Year Old championship.

Eight combinations made it through to the jump-off but none could top the winning time of 44.51 seconds, set by John and his winning ride Science Supplements All On Black Jack.

“I’m thrilled, especially for David and Vicky Mitson from Science Supplements, who are the horse’s owners,” said John.

“This arena really suits the horse because I could open him up but I know he’s going to be careful and jump the jumps,” he added.

In second place and only 0.6 seconds in arrears was Douglas Duffin, riding Lexie HM. Their placing meant the pair won the points award accumulated over this season, while Lexie HM also won a nomination to an Al Shira’aa Stallion for being the highest placed mare.

The Six Year Old points award went to last week’s winners, Lucy Townley and Billy Marionette.

Eight horses jumped double clear in the Al Shira’aa Four Year Old Championship in week two to share the title.