Shane Breen won his second Bunn Leisure Speed Derby with an exhibition round of economic jumping on Magic Fox, an 11-year-old chestnut mare on which he finished third in 2009.
But the sensation of the class was second-placed 21-year-old Harriet Nuttall, tackling this demanding class for the first time, on the cobby Highland Cruiser ll.
Like the winner, the stylish young rider showed all her hunting background — her father Rupert, joint-master of the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale is known to be a challenging man to follow — saving precious seconds with a neat route over the corner of the Derby Bank.
“All I had to do was keep kicking and riding,” said Harriet breathlessly. “I was shocked when I saw the steepness of the Derby Bank. He’s Irish and should know how to do a bank, but as I’ve had him since he was three, I’ve never done one with him. I’ve learned a lot today.”
Shane, the 2-1 favourite with the on-course bookies, didn’t quite match his record-breaking speed of 2008 (91.96sec), when he won on Royal Concorde, but it was a lovely performance.
He won on 96.27sec, which was slower than previous rounds on Magic Fox. Interestingly, he revealed: “When I got to the last combination (14abc) today, I was five strides slower than last time, but I knew what Harriet’s time was (99.74sec) and had worked out the percentages, so I knew that I could just let her flow on and we would make it.
“I’m especially pleased with this mare’s win. Her owner (Ukrainian Pisarenko Anatolyi) rides her in amateur classes and I just borrow her for a few shows a year. She’s always in the top three and is such a kind mare.”
Other Hickstead news
Peter Charles’s good Hickstead continued with a win in the competitive Falcon Equine Feeds Derby Trophy with Olga White’s chestnut stallion Murkas Nevada, a horse he confidently predicts will win a medal at London 2012 next year.
He beat William Funnell and Billy Angelo in a gripping 10-horse jump-off by 0.63sec.
“I was only cruising and didn’t even go that quickly,” said Peter. “He was well within himself.”
Peter, a former triple winner of the Hickstead Derby, does not have a ride for tomorrow, but he had some interesting tips: “It’ll be between Guy Williams and Tina Fletcher, but my outsider’s bet is Peter Murphy.” Shane was in agreement, and added the two German riders plus fellow Irishman David O’Brien to the mix.
On the showing front, Horse & Hound columnist Katie Jerram won the Supreme Hack Championships with Night Prayers, who was bred for racing on The Curragh. For good measure, she produced the reserve, Pencroft Mistral, owned by Mr and Mrs David Curtis and ridden by their daughter Sarah White.
Our report on the Hickstead Derby will be available online shortly after the classes finishes and don’t miss our special magazine report on all the Hickstead action, on sale Thursday 30 June