Last year’s British Speed Derby champion Matt Sampson has just jumped right into contention for Hickstead’s Al Shira’aa Derby.
Matt recently won the Hamburg Derby, the German equivalent to Hickstead’s most famous class, riding the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Gloria van Zuuthoeve. The pair produced the only double clear to win ahead of Germany’s Gilbert Tillmann and eventing World Champion Sandra Auffarth, who finished in second and third respectively.
“Hamburg was the first time I’ve jumped in a Derby, so I had a bit of luck on my side,” said Matt. “It was a great warm-up for Hickstead and it would be great to do well again there in a few weeks’ time. Hickstead is a very different course to Hamburg and not many horses have done well at both, but winning the class has really upped our confidence.”
The 28-year-old Yorkshire rider will return to Hickstead next month as the reigning British Speed Derby champion, having won the 2017 renewal on Topflight True Carlo.
The Speed Derby, which takes place on Saturday 23 June, is similar to the Derby in that it features a long course with an array of different jumping obstacles, including a number of permanent jumps. However, the fences are smaller than the Derby and the competitors must complete the course as quickly as possible while leaving the jumps standing, as each one knocked down adds 4sec to the riders’ time.
As well as defending his British Speed Derby title, Matt hopes he can repeat his Hamburg success in the Al Shira’aa Derby, which takes place on Sunday 24 June.
The last rider to win the Speed Derby and Derby at Hickstead in the same year was Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher, who did the double back in 2005 – an achievement he often credits for making his career. Meanwhile, no one has won the Hamburg and Hickstead Derbies in the same year since Ireland’s Eddie Macken, who won both classes in 1976 and 1978.
Now Matt Sampson will aim to replicate this difficult feat and join the list of showjumping greats who have won two of the most difficult Derbies in the world.
World class show jumping stars are set to converge on The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show this June for a feast of action at the highest level.
On the home front British Number 1, Ben Maher is confirmed to compete alongside crowd favourite John Whitaker and his nephew William. Other leading names heading to Bolesworth include Robert Smith, Keith Shore and US-based Brit, Amanda Derbyshire, a winner at Liverpool International at the end of last year.
The Irish contingent looks set to be as strong as ever with Shane Breen, Conor Swail and Darragh Kenny all confirmed to take part while American riders Laura Kraut, Jessica Springsteen, Lauren Hough and Eve Jobs, both winners last year, will also be making their way to the Bolesworth estate with Jos Verlooy of Belgium
The Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show is now well-established with the castle providing a breath-taking backdrop.
Back by popular demand the show will once again feature a National Ring with show jumping classes and a host of exciting competitions taking place over the five days of the event from June 13 to 17.
Apple founder’s daughter, Eve Jobs will be taking on the big guns having quickly becoming a name to remember for her show jumping results as well as the family cache. She is definitely one to watch this year.
Last year at Bolesworth International Eve had the biggest win of her career in the world of show jumping. At just 18-years-old the young star set the international arena alight in amazing form to win a CSI4* 1.45m Speed Class. On her CSI4* debut she produced one of the most impressive rounds of the day with her 10-year-old gelding Charleville.
Showjumper, William Funnell will be holding a masterclass on Wednesday, June 13 alongside wife and leading event rider, Pippa where visitors will gain invaluable knowledge from both a show jumping and eventing legend at the same time. William’s knowledge of producing international level show jumpers has the highest respect while on the eventing scene Pippa has won every major championship there is. This is definitely an opportunity not to be missed.
The opening Show Jumping class of day two, the Land Rover Grades B & C Jumping Competition, went to British Olympic team gold medalist, Ben Maher, riding Eracantos, a horse recently acquired from The Netherlands for which Maher has high hopes for the future. With 12 double clears in the 36 horse class, Maher’s second-half draw proved advantageous as he shaved 0.05 seconds off runner-up, Georgia Thame’s round. Tracy Priest, who set the pace from an early draw finished in third with her grey mare Diamants Aurora.
The first CSI2* Class of the Show, the St George Two Phase, went to Joseph Davison (pictured), riding Vilenco, a homebred Je T’Aime Flamenco mare owned by his father, Dressage supremo Richard Davison. Davison’s double clear in a time of 31.20 seconds was 0.14 seconds faster than South African Charles Luyckx in second, with Scarlett Charles daughter of London Olympic gold medal winning Show Jumper Peter Charles, in third.
Luyckx secured his second runner-up placing of the day in the following class, the CSI2* Thames Speed Stakes sponsored by Suregrow Fertiliser Ltd, which was won by Britain’s Tracy Priest on Caristo VDL. The twisty course allowed riders to take a few risks with tight turns throughout, but it was Priest who negotiated the quickest route to take the victory.
Later in the day, the focus shifted to the young horses of the future, with the Jumping Competition for Six-Year-Old horses. 49 combinations started the 1.20m single phase competition, which proved challenging, with only eight combinations jumping a double clear. William Rekert’s exceptionally speedy round with Hot Bluebird took the spoils, over two seconds faster than Megan James in second, with Alfie Bradstock a further second behind in third.
Nigel Coupe waited 27 years to win Hickstead’s most famous class, the Al Shira’aa Derby, and next month he returns to the All England Jumping Course with the aim of retaining the title.
Nigel and his horse Golvers Hill were one of two combinations to jump clear in last year’s class, alongside Harriet Nuttall with A Touch Imperious, but in the end it was Lancashire-born Coupe who came out on top after a jump-off against the clock.
He was presented with the Boomerang Trophy – which depicts Eddie Macken and his four-time Derby champion Boomerang descending the Derby Bank – as well as the brand new Al Shira’aa Trophy, and the first prize of £34,650.
“A few hours after winning the class last year, someone asked me what the prize money was and I had to look it up!” says Nigel. “It was an amazing amount, but to be honest it could have been for a pound and it wouldn’t have made any difference to how good it felt to win.”
Coupe now hopes to join an illustrious group of riders to net consecutive wins, including Harvey Smith, Paul Schockemöhle, John Ledingham, William Funnell and, most recently, Trevor Breen, who won in 2014 and 2015. Peter Charles and Michael Whitaker both won three times in succession, with Eddie Macken remaining the most successful rider in Derby history with his four wins in a row from 1976 to 1979.
“To win the Al Shira’aa Derby for the first time was amazing, but now I’d love to experience that all over again,” says Nigel, who admits it will be tough to secure back-to-back wins due to some fierce competition. “There are about six to eight combinations with a good chance of winning it this year, and my horse is one of those, but it all depends on how things go on the day.”
It takes extraordinary skill, talent and often a dose of good luck to jump clear round the Derby course, which has remained the same since the class was first held in 1961. There have only been 60 clear rounds since then, which is testament to its difficulty. Many of the fences are up to full height (1.60m) or width (2m), and there are a number of unique challenges including the 15ft Open Water, the double of water ditches, the Road Crossing, the Open Ditch, the 10ft 6in slope of the Derby Bank and the Devil’s Dyke, widely regarded as the most difficult obstacle on the course.
Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill had an extraordinary season last year. In addition to their Al Shira’aa Derby victory, the pair won the Cock o’the North title at the Great Yorkshire Show and the Leading Showjumper of the Year title at Horse the Year Show, and they represented Great Britain on several Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup teams.
The plan is for the horse to jump in the Hamburg Derby – Germany’s equivalent class, which is held in May – then return to defend their Hickstead title on 24 June. But before they can line up in Sunday afternoon’s show case, they must qualify in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, which decides the start list for the Al Shira’aa Derby.
The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting takes place on the 21-24 June, with tickets on sale now from www.hickstead.co.uk. Discounts are available on tickets bought online in advance of the show.
From 09-13 May, the top equestrian riders in the world will compete at the historic CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show. On the final day, Sunday 13 May, the horse and rider pairs will vie for the event's greatest award, the highly coveted Rolex Grand Prix.
Some 55,000 spectators will enter the private grounds of Windsor Castle to witness the action, an opportunity available to the public just once a year at this majestic show. The eyes of the equestrian world will focus primarily on defending champion Kent Farrington, a Rolex Testimonee and world number one, who returns to Royal Windsor eager to continue his success at the show and retain the Rolex Grand Prix title for a second consecutive year.
Launched in 1943 as a one-day show and originally known as The Windsor Horse and Dog Show; the backdrop of Royal Windsor is none other than Windsor Castle, giving this horse show a uniquely regal appeal. In 1977 it was extended to five days and continues to grow in size and international prestige. Royal Windsor remains the only show in the United Kingdom to host international competitions in show jumping, dressage, driving and endurance. It's this diversity that makes it especially thrilling.
In 2017, the show jumping at Royal Windsor upgraded to five-star status, with support from Rolex. As Title Sponsor of the Grand Prix and Official Timekeeper at the event, Rolex helps reinforce the show’s emblematic position on the international show jumping circuit.
“Royal Windsor Horse Show continues to grow year-on-year,” Simon Brooks-Ward, Director of Royal Windsor Horse Show says. “We are making our mark as one of the best international shows in the world, and we are delighted to have Rolex on board for this journey.”
The 2018 edition is special in that it marks 75 years since the show’s inception. The show will feature a series of displays and exhibitions to commemorate the diamond anniversary. Royal Windsor’s long and distinguished history aligns well with Rolex, who, for more than 60 years has been cultivating an enduring legacy at the pinnacle of equestrianism, as partner to the finest riders, competitions and institutions.
THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX
An eager 8,000 equestrian spectators will enter through the imperial gates on Sunday 13 May, keen to witness the most distinguished show jumping pairings tackle the highly anticipated Rolex Grand Prix.
The course designer, Bob Ellis, is the mastermind behind many world-class tracks, including at the 2012 London Olympic Games, ensuring the optimal test for horse and rider. “Every year I look forward to returning to such a prestigious show to set the course for the world’s best,” he says. “This year will be a testing challenge for all who enter the famed Castle Arena.”