On Sunday (23 June), showjumper Michael Pender became the youngest ever winner of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby, jumping the sole double clear to lift the Boomerang Trophy.
Here are a few things to help you get to know him a little better as he is surely a name we are going to hear a lot more of in the future…
1. Michael is 19-years-old (born on 30 September 1999) and is originally from Co. Kildare, Ireland.
2. He is known as Mikey to his friends
3. He was named the Irish Field Junior Showjumper of the Year in 2016
4. Michael won silver and bronze in the World Breeding Jumping Championships at Lanaken in Belgium in 2016 from a total of 229 starters. These two horses were Z Seven Canya Dance and Z Seven Caretina, who are both now ridden by H&H blogger, Georgia Tame. He also won bronze in the same class in 2018, this time with HHS Vancouver.
5. His Derby win means he follows in the footsteps of Michael Whitaker, who was the last rider to win the Derby on his first attempt 40 years ago.
6. He rides for Marion Hughes of Hughes Horse Stud (HHS) in Ireland — Marion rode for Ireland at the Athens Olympics in showjumping.
7. He was recently selected to ride HHS Burnchurch on the squad for the Irish young rider European Championship, which will be held in the Netherlands 9 to 14 July.
8. Michael is currently 209th in the world in the Longines rankings and 22nd in the FEI jumping under-25 rankings.
9. From the 895 international classes he has started in, Michael has recorded 95 wins.
10. Michael has ridden for Ireland in three pony European championships — he was fifth individually in 2015 aboard Imagine If One — plus one junior and one young rider European championships so far.
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11. The Hickstead Derby was the first ever Derby both Michael and his mount Hearton Du Bois Halleux, owned by Paul Van Den Bosch, had ever jumped in.
12. Michael and Hearton Du Bois Halleux incurred 20 jumping faults in the Hickstead Derby trial class just 48 hours before taking their big win.
13. Hearton Du Bois Halleux’s previous three international starts all come in puissance classes — he was a winner in all three; Dublin Horse Show and Liverpool International Horse Show, both last year, plus Bolesworth International the week before Hickstead.
Don’t miss the full report from Michael’s historic win in the Hickstead Derby in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 27 June.