‘A dream come true’: first-timer completes Hickstead Derby three weeks after heart condition diagnosis

  • Morgan Shirley did not think she would get to jump this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby, as she had not only been suffering from post-concussion syndrome this year, she has also recently been diagnosed with a heart condition.

    But she and the Brendon Stud’s nine-year-old Envoy Merelsnest Z (Dime Bar) completed the famous course today, on what was both horse and rider’s first attempt.

    “It was all a blur,” said Morgan, who gave the stallion a lovely ride. “I’m so lucky to be sitting on Dime Bar, he’s so brave.

    “At the top of the bank, I just thought ‘Don’t look down!’ and he was so good off it, it gave me the confidence to wrap my legs round him for the rest of it.

    “There’s nothing else like [jumping the Derby], I just love it, and I never, ever thought I’d jump it. It’s like a dream come true.”

    Having recovered from her post-concussion syndrome, Morgan then found out about her heart condition at the South of England Show three weeks ago (10-12 June).

    “They don’t actually know what it is yet; I’m seeing a specialist on Wednesday!” she said. “But it wasn’t going to stop me riding. Shirley [Light, of Brendon Stud] always said he was going to jump the Hickstead Derby, and I’d do it, and I never believed her.”

    Shirley added that the Elvis Ter Putte stallion, whom she bought as an embryo, is half-brother to Harrie Smolders’ European silver medal-winning ride Don VHP Z, who was also produced by Brendon Stud.

    “He’s really sensitive, but so, so brave,” Morgan said. “You couldn’t build a jump big enough for him — and we’ll definitely be back next year!”

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