Holland, Britain and Ireland shared the international honours on the opening day of Hickstead’s Derby meeting.
The Derby Tankard, the major jump-off class, was won by Dutchman Henk van der Pol, who gained his first ever Hickstead victory on the scopey stallion Hoek’s Nan.
Henk and the nine-year-old AES-approved son of Olympic Champion Jus De Pomme won from the front of a five-horse jump-off, with Jenny Cassan the best of the British in third place on the neat little bay, Woodlands Millvale.
Eindhoven-based Henk has only recently upgraded Hoek’s Nan to big classes.
“He jumped at his first major show at the British Open in Sheffield and I’ve been bringing him on slowly. I love jumping in Britain. The shows are so good and the people are so nice,” he said.
William Funnell earlier fought through the pain barrier to take a popular victory in the Alberta Canada Salver speed class on Douglas Bunn’s home-bred Buddy Bunn. The final-drawn pair flew round a long course to beat Geoff Luckett opening standard on the 2001 Derby Trial winner GG Barock by 1.5sec.
“Buddy had to do that by himself,” said William, referring to a bad groin strain he sustained at Surrey County on Bank Holiday Monday.
“It’s the first time I’ve sat on a horse since then and I’m full of painkillers,” added the Surrey-based rider, who is still determined to ride in Sunday’s Derby.
“I may have to have a cortisone injection to do it, though,” he said.
Edward Doyle had to settle for second place in the Tankard on Effective, but he did have his moment of glory in ring two when Cor D’Alme Z galloped to victory over a big field in the Scaynes Hill Speed, the qualifier for Saturday’s Speed Derby.
Three national titles were decided in the International Arena. Sandra Low-Mitchell’s long trip from Scotland was made worthwhile when she opened the show with a great Futurity win on her home-bred Ominous; Matthew Lanni shrugged off a painful fall from his first ride to take the grade B championship on his father John’s lovely grey President Utopia and Louise Pavitt took her second young riders’ title on three years on a brand-new ride, David McPherson’s Gambit.