Peter Charles and Robert Smith go head-to-head in the jump off to clock up a classic Hickstead Derby in spite of the tropical downpours
Peter Charles got to the halfway pointof achieving an ambition when he headed his second consecutive British Jumping Derby at Hickstead.
The Irishman’s hero is his compatriot Eddie Macken, who won four Derbys in a row on the great Boomerang in the 1970s – the Derby trophy is now named after that horse – and he would dearly like to emulate his idol.
But it was hard work in the Hickstead rain, as, despite what many people were worried was a “sub-standard” field for this year’s running of the great class, it turned into a classic.
Jane Annett, who had earlier won the first running of the ladies’ Derby, opened the 21-strong class in a tropical downpour, but her round was a joy to watch.
Her veteran partner Pipakie tried her heart out and the pair came home with only eight faults to eventually share fourth place.
The next great performance came from local rider Duncan Inglis on his relatively new ride, the Danish-bred Tougardens Joshuan.
“Josh” had been backed down to one of the favourites before the class – Peter Charles was en route to collect his £700 winnings after the presentation! – and it was easy to see why.
They got into a fabulous rhythm and it was onlya rolled pole after the Derby Bank that stopped them from making the jump-off.
It was not until the 17th to go that Duncan lost his lead. The Derby is one of the few major classes that Robert Smith has not yet won and the Yorkshireman produced an inspired performance on his Derby Trial winner, Jimmy McCloskey’s nine-year-old Mr Springfield.
The pair came through the finish clear to a great ovation from the packed stands.
But there was still the reigning champion to go and no one can ever write off Peter Charles.
Peter survived a dicey moment when his new riding hat tipped over his eyes on the descent of the Bank, but the obliging Corrada just kept going and they sorted themselves out to provide a rare jump-off.
First-drawn Robert set off at a good pace, but it all went wrong when Mr Springfield bounced off the first part of the Devil’s Dyke and then pushed off a pole at the final rustic parallel.
Andwhen Peter and Corrada produced another stately clear, the £20,000 first prize was theirs.
“She lurched down the Bank in the first round and I couldn’t see a thing. The whole thing was a bit of a blur,” said Peter, whose next target for the big German-bred grey is the forthcoming World Equestrian Games next month.
Although understandably disappointed, Robert Smith was delighted with the performance of Jimmy McCloskey’s Irish-bred Mr Springfield, who washaving his first try at this unique challenge.
“He jumps a bit on nervous energy and his tank was empty in the jump-off,” said Robert. “But he’s got his whole career in front of him and as long as things go right we’ll be back for another try next year.
To read Saturday’s Hickstead sj report click here
To read Friday’s Hickstead sj report click here
To read Thursday’s Hickstead sj report click here
For full results from Hickstead visit www.hickstead.co.uk/results
Click here for Hickstead timetable
Read full Hickstead report with pictures in next week’s Horse & Hound (on sale Thursday 29 August)