British showjumpers Tracy Priest and Holly Gillott both enjoyed double successes at the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting on Thursday.
It proved to be ladies’ day all-round in Hickstead’s huge main arena as Louise Pavitt came out top in a thrilling international speed class.
It was Priest, though, who won the headline Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard, claiming its £3,000 first prize in style on her nine-year-old grey gelding Caristo VDL.
A total of eight combinations from 46 starters made the jump-off, and it was Priest who prevailed, clocking a time of 36.27 seconds. Phillip Miller and Unbelievable Lady were second in 36.95, while William Funnell and Billy Congo – 2013 European team gold medallists – finished third.
Priest said: “I’ve had the horse since he was a five-year-old, and these last few weeks he’s been jumping unbelievably.
“He was placed in all three classes at South of England, and was third in the Grand Prix, and then he was placed at Bolesworth in the four-star. I really believed I could win it today. It was the same jump-off track I’d ridden in the morning in the other class, so I knew exactly what I had to do. He didn’t find it difficult at all – he really enjoyed it.”
The day’s main speed competition – the Stoner Jewellers Vase – went to Sussex-based Pavitt, but it was a close-run thing after Irish star Billy Twomey pushed her all the way.
Pavitt’s time of 64.49 seconds aboard Fiona VH Lemmenshof was just eight hundredths of a second ahead of Twomey and Thomas, with Julie Andrews and Wilando B third.
Reflecting on her win, Pavitt said: “We’ve owned her (Fiona) for the past three years, but she’s still fairly green at that height. She only started jumping at six-years-old, as she had two foals, and then, about six weeks after we bought her, she colicked in Lummen and then had to have a year off after surgery.
“She jumped in this class last year and went really green, but she kept on going. I had a baby in December, so she had a little bit of a break.
“My partner David doesn’t really get on with her because she’s completely weird and horrible to ride. She’s awful to trot and canter, and she’s always got her head in your face – we call her the reindeer at home!
“But she’s really fun and easy to jump. You never think that she’ll stop. Whatever you ask of her, she will try her heart out.
“We were back in action in Spain in February, and she seemed to have come on for it. She’s still relatively low mileage, especially on grass, so she’s done really well.”
The day’s main national classes were dominated by Leicestershire-based Nations Cup rider Gillott. Riding Carolus K, she took the 1.35m Open Championship two-phase in a time if 36.63 seconds, finishing clear of British eventer Emily Llewellyn (Junior IV) in second, and third-placed Yazmin Pinchen on Bandito.
And Gillott also won the Hickstead Annual Grade C Championship, guiding PLS Halo Diamond home by almost a two-second margin from Louise Whitaker and Udget du Rozel, with Henry Turrell on Doonaveeragh Complete in third.
Priest, meanwhile, won the The Hickstead Novice Championship on Caruso Deres Z, although less than half a second separated her from Ireland’s Kenneth Graham and Democrat, and third place went to Julian Mincher on Eindhoven GH.
And the Hickstead Speed Derby qualifier saw Ireland’s Richard Howley and Verlindo triumph in a time of 74.43 seconds, from Chloe Winchester (Zandoran H) in second and Paul Crago (Valentino IX) third.
Image: Tracy Priest and Caristo VDL win the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard, by Julian Portch, courtesy of Hickstead