The world famous Hickstead Derby is one of the greatest challenges for horse and rider — from the dizzying heights of the Bank to the rustic traps of the Devil’s Dyke and the shark-infested (or so some horses would have us believe) expanse of the water jump, these fences require every ounce of a rider’s of skill, determination and athletic ability. So can you imagine tackling these formidable obstacles at the All England Jumping Course one-handed?
Rewind 54 years to the third running of this unique competition and the legendary showjumper Ted Edgar proved that jumping two-handed was for wimps and that a broken arm was no hindrance to producing a top class performance against some of the best riders in the world.
In 1963 the Derby was still in its infancy but the third running of the Douglas Bunn-instigated competition attracted the heroes of the day including Pat Smythe (Scorchin), who went on to win the ladies’ European championship for the third time the following day, David Broome (Ballan Silver Knight), Anneli Drummond Hay (Merely A Monarch) and the eventual winner that year after a three-way jump-off, Brazilian superstar Nelson Pessoa and Gran Geste.
But, as this wonderful footage shows, the story of the competition was Ted Edgar riding Jacapo, who can be seen descending the Derby Bank and clearing the towering rails with his arm in a sling underneath his show jacket. The renowned rider had injured his arm in a schooling accident shortly before the Derby.
But the drama didn’t end there — the reigning European champions David Barker and Mister Softee, who three years later would go on to win the Hickstead Derby and many other successes with David Broome in the saddle, slipped up on the flat and were penalised.
The clip ends with Nelson’s horse Gran Geste eating the laurels round his neck — he certainly wasn’t the last to try that trick…