Opinion

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Under the glistening sunlight, Hickstead’s iconic ring has never looked more spectacular. The footing was next to perfect and the Derby field was as strong as it has been in recent years.

There were some brilliant riding displays, none more so than Nigel Coupe, who produced his horse to perfection for the occasion, showing all of his years of experience to capture the famous Boomerang trophy.

There were some hard-luck stories, and William Funnell’s round on the exciting Billy Buckingham with just an unfortunate stop at the bank was one. Willy will be kicking himself for a time-fault but should be delighted with how his young horse coped.

One of the most impressive rounds was by another first-timer, Quality Old Joker ridden by Holly Smith, who looked a future Derby winner.

Her time will come

It’s been several years since there was more than one clear jumped in the Derby and I feel desperately sorry for Harriet Nuttall, who jumped a foot-perfect round on her great horse A Touch Imperious, whom she produced herself. Most years that would have been good enough to win and I was in that situation myself in 2010 — when both Guy Williams and I jumped double clears and I was second.

Top class Derby horses are few and far between, however, and my Promised Land returned to jump another clear the following year and won it. I’m sure Harriet’s horse will do the same.

Hickstead TV did a brilliant job but this exciting and prestigious event is surely worthy of mainstream television. It seems a missed opportunity, and would surely be a great way to get our sport back where it belongs.

Ref Horse & Hound; 29 June 2017