Having won the Hickstead Derby in 2013 on the grey Caritiar Z, Phillip Miller will be blogging about his preparations for this year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting (26-29 June)

Carter and I went off to the Lummen CSIO5* in Belgium at the end of April to jump in their Derby. Only one rider jumped clear – Carlos Eduardo Motta Ribas on Ronaldo – and I finished 7th. We had 4 down, but he jumped well and was clear down the bank and over their dyke. The Lummen Derby includes more cross-country type fences than Hickstead or Hamburg, with 2 water jumps, an owl hole and steps. It was good fun though, and Carter enjoyed himself. He did get a little strong at times so he’s obviously feeling fit and well.

Then it was off to Royal Windsor, where unfortunately I developed a bad case of 4-faultitis! Windsor was upgraded to a CSI3* this year and it was a very friendly and a really well organised show. The beautiful weather certainly helped too. I also bumped into Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn, who became the stalker of Windsor! She was tracking down various riders to persuade them to take a ‘selfie’ while wearing their Hickstead Derby Community t-shirts. I think the Community is a good idea; we need to get more people involved and following what’s going on in the sport. If it gets them talking about showjumping and the Equestrian.com Derby, and hopefully bringing other people along to Hickstead to spectate, then it can only be good for the sport.

After Windsor it was off to Devon County where my 4-fault habit stuck around, but the good weather didn’t! We jumped one class on Thursday, picked up 4 faults, then overnight and on Friday it absolutely chucked it down and the rest of the show was cancelled. It’s a real shame because county shows do so much for our sport. They try to provide good going, but there’s not a lot you can do with the British weather being as it is.

It’s hard when you find yourself picking up 4 faults, but you have to keep plugging away and remind yourself that every rider will go through periods like this and then hopefully you turn the corner again and have a run of clears. It can be hard to keep positive, all that work and preparation only to have a fence down for no reason, but you have to keep going and not let it get to you.

I’ve got lots of county shows coming up, then I’m off to a 3-day show at Bury Farm, South of England and finally Bolesworth in the run up to Hickstead. Carter will be jumping in a few Stairways to keep him going and get him up in the air.

After winning last year’s Derby, I spent my share of the prizemoney on a beautiful Macaw called Peggy. I’ve been flying her in the indoor school and she’s learning to talk. Apparently she’s really well behaved when I’ve been away at shows, though when I get back she’s been really cuddly with me, so maybe she does miss me a bit.

I’ve got my own mini zoo at home with birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and a house pig, and if I happen to win the Derby again this year, I’d quite like a cow to add to the collection!

Phillip

You could win a lesson with last year’s Hickstead Derby winner Phillip – join the Hickstead Derby Community to enter

Picture by Samatha Lamb