Michael Whitaker showed exactly how to tackle Hickstead’s courses when he rode Dobel’s Frechdachs to victory in the Hasseröder Speed Derby.
The Yorkshireman produced a smooth clear on Otto Becker’s 12-year-old chestnut — on whom he took the equivalent class at Calgary — to beat Irishman Ian Kerr’s standard on Flip by more than 3sec.
Although he has won the Hickstead Derby itself four times, this was Michael’s first ever victory in this class.
“Otto sent him to me 18 months ago because he thought he would suit my style of riding, but he had a suspensory problem last year and had the summer off. He’s a really good horse,” said Michael, who is looking forward to being part of Britain’s European Championship team next week.
“If luck goes with us, we should have a really good chance,” he added.
This was the last competition for the 19-year-old Flip, whom Ian Kerr has now retired.
“He’s been a great horse for me but I have a new job in Qatar and it doesn’t seem fair to take him there,” said Ian, who finished third with the horse in this class three years ago.
Michael very nearly scored a double in the Hasseröder Trophy jump-off class, where a brilliant round on the eight-year-old stallion, Royal Dane, was just pipped by Germany’s Alois Polmann-Schweckhorst, who did not take a pull at any fence on the careful chestnut, Diamonds Daylight.
Earlier in the day, Matthew Sampson took his first Hickstead title when he finished first and second in the 138cm championship on Another Spider and Strawberry Fair.
The Hickstead Pony Masters third leg, which incorporated the 148cm championship, went to form when the individual European gold and silver medallists, Hannah Paul (Mister Amontilano) and Sophie Broome (Spottie Dot Com) took the top two spots.
The 10 who reached the jump-off in this class will jump tomorrow for a first prize of £2,500, the richest prize in pony show jumping history.