Angelie von Essen became the first Swedish winner of the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial after she and the British-bred Jordan II proved too good for their rivals.
A large crowd arrived at Hickstead on Friday to watch this qualifier for Sunday’s Derby and spectators were rewarded by some top-class jumping from the 64-strong field.
Ireland’s Trevor Breen withdrew his new ride, the 2012 Derby winner Loughnatousa WB, from the jump-off, but there were still 6 good ones left to fight for the £7,095 first prize.
Angelie had both her rides through, but when she came in on last-drawn Jordan, Harriet Nuttall led with a fast 4 faults on her huge Irish-bred A Touch Imperious.
The Swedish team rider, who has been based in Cheshire for several years with her partner, James Davenport, then showed an ice cool temperament. She took her time and the 9-year-old Air Jordan gelding produced a perfect winning round, albeit collecting a single time-fault.
“I feel amazing. This time last year, Jordan was only at Foxhunter level, but I was confident that he’d go clear again,” she said. “I won’t put him in Sunday’s Derby, though. He’s too young and I’d be far too scared!”
Other Friday classes
The Bunn Leisure Master’s Challenge, a unique class comprising a speed section with seconds added for fences down followed by a line of 4 faultable gates, also attracted a huge entry.
Some of Britain’s best national riders took their chance to compete on the international stage and first-drawn Henry Turrell, who had earlier taken the 5-year-old title on his home-bred Reddarco, led for a long time with Billy Comme Ca. He had to settle for 4th place in the end, as William Funnell (Billy Mexico), Matthew Sampson (Eagles Costalot) and Jay Halim (Goodman For Fun II) took the top 3 spots.
“This class suited Mexico perfectly, as he’s quick and careful and you needed both those things today,” said William.
Grant Talbot opened the classes in the International Arena with a great round to win the 1.25m championship on his home-bred Electra IV, while Jude Burgess was equally dominant in the 6-year-old final with Comeback De Fremis.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby meeting on HorseandHound.co.uk over the weekend and read our special report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out 3 July 2014.