A clear round apiece for Tina Fletcher (Promised Land) and Guy Williams (Skip Two Ramiro) forced a jump-off in the 50th running of the DFS Hickstead Derby.
Both jumped clear again, but a much faster round from Guy, some 16sec quicker than Tina’s, secured him the title.
“To be fair, Tina had done a very steady round, so left me with quite a bit of room,” said Guy, 38, who has been competing at the All England Jumping Course for 30 years.
Tina, who was first to go over the shortened course, which contained 13 tough jumping efforts including a second run through the Devil’s Dyke, was advised by her husband, Graham, to go for the clear.
“I knew Guy would be quicker than me. All I could do is hope he’d have a fence down,” said Tina. “I’m both gutted [to not have won] and thrilled to have gone double clear. The same thing happened to Graham. He jumped double clear [in 1974 on Buttevant Boy] but finished second [to Harvey Smith and Salvador].”
During Guy’s round, Skip Two Ramiro, who is owned by his future father-in-law David Walker, lost his left fore shoe going over the second fence.
“It didn’t seem to bother him though,” said Guy. “I knew the only fence I’d need to worry about was going through the Devil’s Dyke again.”
The three-element obstacle has caused problems for Guy and “Skippy” in the past. On each of his previous attempts they have toppled one of its poles, so he constructed a replica at home.
“It’s more of a big hole in the ground really,” he joked. “But for the past four weeks he’s been jumped through it every day by my grooms.”
The training obviously paid off, as on both occasions the 14-year-old gelding cruised through it easily.
“It’s the result of a real team effort,” said Guy. “I’ve been aiming him at this completely and done very little else with him this year.”
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