One of the most exciting classes in the long history of Hickstead’s speed Derby ended up with a Swedish victory in this year’s Hasseroder-sponsored version.
The record for the fastesttime was broken three times before the honours went to Jens Fredricson on the 18-year-old RS Isaac, who held off the challenges from John Whitaker (Virtual Village Hunter’s Level) and the youngest rider in the class, John’s 15-year-old niece Ellen, on Hotline, a mare bred on the neighbouring farm to Jens’s home.
Ellen, urged on by what seemed the entire junior show jumping fraternity, set the early standard and it looked for some time as though the class would have a fairytale ending.
But, drawn towards to the end, Jens galloped from start to finish to take the lead on his big chesnut former riding school horse, who took a 1.6sec lead.
John Whitaker tried all the way, but the class was lost when he had to take a pull to the last fence. Hunter’s Level slowed down obligingly, but it was enough to leave them in second place, 1.4sec behind.
“I don’t know who was more tired, the horse or me,” said John. “I was on a terrible stride, so the pull cost me the class but probably saved my life!”
Ellen Whitaker was delighted with her performance, particularly as “when I walked the course I got really frightened. The bank looked enormous!”
Ellen will ride ponies and horses up to the end of the season, but will probably keep only one pony for her final junior year.The winning horse, RS Isaac, is a real Derby specialist, including being placed twice in the major class here.
“Last year, I thought he was struggling a bit over the fences and I decided then to try him in the speed Derby this time. I’m glad I made that decision,” said Jens.
Robert Smith and the 11-year-old Dutch-bred Senator Hennessy bounced back to top form with a terrific jump-off round to take the honours in the Hasseroder Trophy.
Hennessy, who came through Hickstead show director Paul Schockemohle, has spent four months recovering from a virus and was at only his second show back, but he showed no signs of rustiness when galloping to victory from Mark Armstrong (Elise) and John Whitaker (Livingston).