Hickstead Derby round-up - Trevor Breen and Nicole Pavitt shine

Trevor Breen. Picture by George Gunn Photography
Trevor Breen. Picture by George Gunn Photography

If you missed the Hickstead Derby last weekend, you missed a treat! Gorgeous weather, plenty of shopping, heaps of tasty food stands and of course world class show jumping made for a fantastic day out at the iconic Sussex event.

The Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby show got underway on Thursday last week with no shortage of highlights. Sussex-based Nicole Pavitt enjoyed a super first day, taking both second and third spots in the Beethoven 7 & 8 Year Old first qualifier, on two different horses.

On the same day Irishman Shane Breen, who is based at the Hickstead showground, took second place in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard on horse Farao Van T Vennehof.

Some of the country’s top lady riders dominated the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial class on Friday, with the top placings going to two of British show jumping’s most promising riders, Holly Gillott and Harriet Nuttall. The class saw an astounding total of 68 horses enter, which culminated in a jump-off between just seven. By the end it was left between Holly and Harriet, but Holly from Leicestershire, produced a fast clear ousting Harriet from the top spot.

The pair of dynamic ladies continued their domination in the British Speed Derby class the following day, with Holly holding the lead in the class for some time before Harriet produced a superbly quick round taking the lead. However, in a repeat of last year, top British rider Guy Williams produced a superb quick round on horse Casper de Muze and won the class. Not only did Guy become the first rider to take the title for a fourth time, his speedy round also beat the course record!

The Speed Derby sees riders take on some of the world’s most testing jumps, most of which stand at over five feet high. Riders have to race round the long and winding course at top speed, with any fences knocked down adding 4sec to their time.

When it came to the Osborne Refrigerators Scurry Driving Championship, which also takes place in the main arena, the crowds were delighted to see the beautiful pair of white ponies, ‘Piglet and Eeyore’ win the class, superbly driven by Jemma Millman with lots of cheering along the way.

The main event, the Hicktead Derby class, took place on the Sunday of the show, and hundreds of spectators watched the nail biting rounds from 37 riders. Perhaps one of the most exciting and infamous aspects of the show ground is the notorious ‘Derby Bank’ obstacle, which is often the ‘make or break’ point of this class for some riders. Standing at ten feet high and with an almost vertical side, the horses and riders must carefully ride down the bank, and if successful, jump a five feet fence only a few strides away at the bottom.

With the only clear round of the class, it was Irish rider Trevor Breen who won the class for the second year in a row, on horse Loughnatousa WB. Last year, Trevor, who is the brother of Hickstead-based Shane Breen, took first place on the ‘one eyed wonder horse’ Adventure De Kannan. After Trevor’s unbeatable clear round, the class saw not one but five riders share second place: William Whitaker, Billy Twomey, Steven Franks, Nigel Coupe and Harriet Nuttall all knocked just one fence each, resulting in a tie and ultimately sharing second place between them.

Trevor said: “It’s extremely difficult to win, and you need a lot to go right - and luckily everything did. I felt my horse was running out of petrol a bit towards the end so I was pleased I didn’t have to jump-off!”

An estimated 15,000 showjumping fans flocked to the show ground, which is located just south of Bolney on the A23, and never fails to deliver exciting horse shows every summer.

Those who missed this show will have a second chance to enjoy the thrills and spills of Hickstead at the Longines Royal International Horse Show, which takes place from 28th July – 2nd August. Visitors can expect to see all aspects of horse sports from show jumping to scurry driving, showing, polo and more!

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