Ireland’s Paul Beecher took the honours in an action-packed Carpetright Derby on the final day of the British Jumping Derby Meeting at Hickstead.
Paul lives at his family’s Loughnatousa Stud in Co Waterford, but commutes to England to compete the three horses he rides for Patricia Brown. He was first to tackle the fearsome Derby course on the big Irish-bred chestnut, Loughnatousa WB, but they made it look surprisingly easy.
Challenges came and went and Paul must have been spending his £35,000 winner’s cheque when local hero William Funnell – trying to win the class for the fourth time – joined him in the jump-off with Dorada.
Paul and Loughnatousa WB then jumped another great clear and this was enough to win when William and Dorada lowered the third fence, a huge black gate.
“Dorada was a top speed horse for [previous rider] Shane Breen and when I gave him a squeeze, he thought ‘off we go’. I was still trying to settle him when we got too close to the gate,” said William.
Paul, meanwhile, was sporting the biggest smile on the showground.
“It’s a dream come true to even compete at Hickstead, so I cannot put into words how it feels to win a class like this,” he said.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Hickstead in next week’s magazine, on sale Thursday 28 June