Harriet Nuttall can finally celebrate life in the fast lane after being crowned Hickstead Speed Derby champion.
The Somerset-based rider, runner-up behind Guy Williams in last year’s class, turned the tables by claiming a thrilling win on Silver Light.
And in doing so, she also thwarted Williams’ Speed Derby hat-trick hopes. Initially, it seemed he’d have to settle for second place aboard Casper De Muze, with Nuttall also taking third with Highland Cruiser II. Later, however, he was disqualified under FEI blood rules, with Nuttall and Highland Cruiser II moving into second place and Nicole Pavitt (Welshman II) in third.
“My first horse went before the rain when it was perfect, but after the rain I was slipping a lot, but I think Guy’s horse suffered more than mine,” Nuttall said. “He seemed to run out of steam a bit, whereas mine is a lot lighter so he sits on top of the ground.
“I’ve never won here. This is my first win, so it’s a little burden removed to be honest. It was always going to be slower this year – last year was crazy fast. Here, I just went for a clear.”
Williams added: “I know how fast my horse is, and I knew what I had to do. I just misjudged it a bit, to be honest. Casper slipped a bit towards the end.
“I looked at the time and thought I’m not getting home, but Harriet deserved to win it and I’m happy for her. If anyone’s going to beat me I’m glad it’s her. Last year, she should have won and she threw it away, and this year I did the same thing.”
Meanwhile, Irish star Billy Twomey showcased the rich promise of nine-year-old gelding Thomas by landing the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy, edging Phillip Miller and Unbelievable Lady into second spot, while Anthony Condon and Balzac finished third.
“The ground was at its best when I went, so maybe I had an advantage going first, but I don’t think the conditions were too much of a factor because the jump-off ground felt good,” Twomey said.
“I thought the course was pretty difficult when I walked it, so I didn’t think there would be too many clear rounds. I know Phillip’s horse is fast and careful, so I wanted to put down a decent marker and then hopefully they would have to go for it and make some mistakes.
“My stable jockey Beth Vernon started him (Thomas) off, and she’s a very capable rider. I’ve only had him in the main ring half a dozen times, and I’ve had the ride about two months. He’s very straightforward but relatively inexperienced, and he looks like he could be really useful.”
In Saturday’s other main arena classes on the penultimate day of the Equestrian.com Derby Meeting, Ireland’s Shane Breen won the Beethoven seven and eight-year-old championship with Silbermond, doing just enough to defeat in-form Holly Gillott and PLS Halo Diamond, with Nicole Pavitt and Gemmarco 16 in third.
And the Animo Amateur Championship went to another Irish rider, Enda Ivanoff, riding Quinsflight, with Monica Ballard second and Christopher O’Bryan third.
Image: Harriet Nuttall wins the British Speed Derby at Hickstead, by Sian Hayden, courtesy of Hickstead