Robert showjumped in his youth and won team silver at the European young riders championships, but switched to racing soon after.
He was tempted back in 2012 when he came to Hickstead to compete in the Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix. Riding Doonaveeragh O One (‘Tommy’), a former event horse belonging to his sister, Irish international eventer Elizabeth Power, Robert finished third.
Last year Robert and Tommy returned to the All England Jumping Course and won the Speed Derby. Now they’re back for a 3rd year, and Robert has a new ambition — winning the Hickstead Derby.
“I’m feeling hopeful, as Tommy jumped fantastically in the Derby Trial,” said Robert. “Tomorrow we’ll have to jump challenging fences like the Derby Bank and the Devil’s Dyke, but he’s the ideal horse for Hickstead because he’s quick, brave and careful.
“If we were lucky enough to win tomorrow it would be on a par with winning the Grand National, They’re both unique events — every year there are thousands of races and thousands of grand prix classes, but the Grand National and the Hickstead Derby only happen once a year.
“I’ll no doubt be a bit anxious in the morning but I’m looking forward to it. It’s like being in the weighing room at Aintree, you just want to get on with it.”
Find out how Robert fared in our report on HorseandHound.co.uk tomorrow and don’t miss our special report from the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby meeting in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out 3 July.