It may have been 17 years since a teenage Tim Gredley made his Hickstead Derby debut, but the British showjumper has set his sights on making a return to the iconic class at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting (23-26 June).
The 36-year-old has taken the reins on 16-year-old Gentlemen VH Veldhof, who was originally bought for Tim’s sister Polly to ride, and came from David Simpson, who rode the gelding to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead in 2019.
As well as landing the Queen’s Cup, Gentlemen VH Veldhof has plenty of experience round Hickstead’s iconic international arena, competing in many classes over the years, including in the 2017 Hickstead Derby with former rider Michael Whitaker.
The plan for Tim to jump him in this year’s Derby was formulated while Tim’s stable jockey Joe Clayton was competing the gelding in Spain earlier this year.
“I rode in the Hickstead Derby a long time ago but I remember thinking I’d never do it again unless I had a horse that’s right for it — finding the right one is half the battle — but I think I have one in ‘Gentleman’,” Tim told H&H.
“I’ve only jumped it once and I must have been about 18 or 19 years old. I got round, but I just remember thinking ‘That was bloody hard work’ — but I hadn’t done any schooling or any kind of preparation for it. So I thought if I’m going to do it again I need to give myself every chance by doing my homework this time.”
Former British team rider Tim, who took a break from the sport but made his international return to showjumping in 2019, has been schooling round David Simpson’s Derby fences at home and says Gentleman has taken well to a return to the natural fences.
“David has pretty much a full course at his house, so we’ve been over the bank and the dyke,” said Tim. “It all went OK — I’m not pretending I’m going to win it or anything, but if I get round and have a respectable score, I’ll be happy!
“So we’ll do the Derby trial, then if that all goes well and we complete, we’ll give the Hickstead Derby a real shot — I’m really looking forward to it.”
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