Harriet Nuttall takes Hickstead Speed Derby after nail-biting finish

It was victory once again in the Science Supplements Speed Derby for Harriet Nuttall and Silver Lift – a result decided by the very last jump of the competition.

The 2016 champions showed their class yet again with a superb clear from 22nd draw to take the lead in 95.33 seconds, but with Matt Sampson on Topflight True Carlo, who won last year and in 2017, among those still to come, it was always going to be a nail-biting finish.

Matt scorched round the course in customary style, flying to the last with seconds in hand – but that last rustic oxer tumbled to the grass to give Matt a final time of 95.83, and securing the win for Harriet.

“It means so much,” Harriet said. “I’ve been runner-up so often, so to now have two wins with this horse is so special.

“I seem to always come second here! So I’m so happy to have another win under my belt.”

Matt praised his “fantastic” horse, who hunted over the winter with his owner Christine Spanner.

“He loves that arena, and that class,” he said.

“He got a bit tired by the end, with the heat and everything, but he’s jumped that class I think seven times, and been in the top five seven times. He always tries his absolute best, and to lose to Harriet is no bad thing.”

Harriet has also had her share of runner-up spots in the Al Shira’aa Derby, which she is due to contest again tomorrow with A Touch Imperious. So could this be her year?

“100%, she’s going to win,” Matt said.

Harriet added: “He feels great. He made a couple of mistakes in the Derby trial yesterday [21 June] but nothing that won’t wake us up for tomorrow.

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“I’m going to go for a clear again, but I don’t know anyone else who’s jumped four, four-fault rounds and one clear and not won! But he’s another amazing horse for me and what will happen, will happen.”

In third place his afternoon was Brazilian rider Carlos Eduardo Mota Ribas with the 13-year-old Brilexo, who just tipped the gate to finish on 96.59. Paul Crago’s seasoned Speed Derby campaigner Valentino IX also added four faults by knocking the second of the Hickstead planks to finish on 98.63 for fourth place.

For the full report from the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting 2019, don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale 27 June.