Phillip Miller’s Hickstead countdown: It’s Derby Trial day

  • Having won the Hickstead Derby in 2013 on the grey Caritiar Z, Phillip Miller will be blogging about his preparations for this year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting (26-29 June)

    The Equestrian.com Derby is now just 2 days away and I’m looking forward to having another crack at winning the Boomerang Trophy.

    I’ve just finished riding in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial and fortunately all went well – Carter (pictured top) jumped well and just had the first part of the combination down to finish on 4 faults. We ended up 8th out of 63 starters so I’m really pleased.

    The course includes some of the fences in the Derby itself, including the double of ditches, the wall and the Devil’s Dyke and he cantered over them all absolutely fine. He knows exactly what he’s doing in that arena now.

    He’s totally different at this show, and he’s feeling really well in himself. He was bucking in the trot-up on Wednesday, and is generally in a very good mood. The only thing is I haven’t had a chance to clip him yet so that’ll be my task for tomorrow. I may be the current Derby winner, but I still have to do the same jobs as everyone else!

    I’ll also take him round the showground for a hack and do a little bit of work with him too, but he’s not jumping tomorrow. He’ll go out Sunday morning for a walk in hand to have a bit of grass, then it’s time for him to have a bath (the joys of greys) and to be plaited in time for the parade. He loves doing that, as he’s a proper little show off and loves attention.

    The course doesn’t ever change, but I’ll still walk it a couple of times. It doesn’t get any smaller the more I walk it though! I’m also monitoring the weather, because if it rains, that could work in my favour. Carter loves a bit of a mud – he recently won the trial at Herts County when it was hammering it down. He was the only horse who went into the jump-off with his ears forward, happy as anything.

    Ones to watch

    There are so many good horses in the Equestrian.com Derby. So many horses these days are prepared especially for this class and it wouldn’t surprise me if there will be proper jump-offs every year from now on. The ones I’ll be looking out for most are the Breen brothers, Trevor and Shane; Guy Williams with Skip Two Ramiro, and Geoff Billington, whose horses have been going well.

    David Simpson is also one to watch — Hermione IV just came 5th in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, and he’s also now riding Richi Rich III, the former ride of Guy Williams, and the mare has jumped well in the Derby before. Harriet Nuttall, who came 2nd in today’s trial with A Touch Imperious, is another one to keep an eye on!

    It’s all a bit surreal coming back to Hickstead as the reigning winner of the Derby. I’m doing the Donkey Derby on the Saturday night, which will be fun – though unlike William Funnell, I won’t be actually riding the donkeys instead of driving them… I’ve fallen off enough donkeys in my time! I’m also doing the Celebrity Scurry on Sunday too and I’m hoping I get paired up with the driver with the fastest ponies.

    I also jumped Basic in the Trial as well and had 4 down — he’s only 8 so he’s not quite ready for the Derby itself. Tomorrow I’m jumping him in the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy, so hopefully he’ll go well. Then it’s time to focus on the Equestrian.com Derby.

    I’m not nervous yet and I know as soon as I go to bed and shut my eyes on Saturday night I’ll be fast asleep. But on Sunday everyone knows that I’m best left to my own devices! Just hope we can jump another good round in the Derby — it’ll be unbelievable if we can win it again.


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