THRILLING action in an immaculate International Arena, coupled with hotly contested classes in outside rings, made the Hickstead Derby meeting last week an outstanding event.
The event had a fairytale result when Tina Fletcher won the Carpetright Derby at Hickstead on Sunday, becoming the first female winner of the class since 1973. She rode the 16-year-old gelding Promised Land to score the only clear round and take home the £40,000 first prize.
Having finished second in 2010, Tina and Promised Land started as one of the favourites for this year’s class. A number of riders had already notched up four-fault rounds – including last year’s winner Guy Williams (this time on board Richi Rich III), 27-year-old Ronnie Healy (Carlow Cruiser) and Irish rider David O’Brien (Mo Chroi).
A jump-off was looking likely until third-last to go Tina came into the International Arena and jumped a perfectly judged clear to go top. Penultimate drawn Michael Whitaker then joined the list of four-faulters, but when the final rider, Germany’s Andre Thieme, retired after the Carpetright Balustrade (fence 14) it left Tina’s round as the only clear.
For full report and other equestrian news see Sussex Horse World, West Sussex Gazette, June 29