Hertfordshire-based Phillip Miller has won the 53rd Hickstead Derby on Caritiar Z. The 36-year old produced the only clear round in the event on the 13-year-old grey gelding.
Trevor Breen (Adventure De Kannan) and William Funnell (Dorado) had to settle for second place with four faults each, both knocking down the open ditch, near to the end of the course.
Last to go Tina Fletcher looked to be having a super round on Promised Land, the exuberant winner of the class in 2011, but the gelding stumbled at the bottom of the famous Derbybank and unseated his rider, meaning Phillip took home the £36,630 first prize.
“I never thought I’d be leaving Hickstead this week as the winner of the Derby,” said a delighted Phillip. “It’s an amazing achievement and it’s the one everyone wants to win.
“To be honest I was worried about all of the fences. But the Devil’s Dyke was my biggest concern, as we had four faults there last year, so once I jumped that I had to focus on not getting time faults. We had a rattle at the open ditch and then I could hear the crowd cheering, so I knew I was in with a chance.”
Phillip is based at Greenacres Equestrian, a riding school owned and run by Di and Pennie Cornish. He has produced a number of top showjumpers, including Talan and Je T’aime Flamenco, but most have then been passed on to other riders to continue their international careers.
“‘Carter’ is the first horse I’ve kept on and he’s got me to where I am now. I got him as a three-year-old and he wasn’t gelded until he was eight and he was so rudely behaved.”
Phillip has got to the top through sheer hard work, and without any financial support since he started riding at the school 29 years ago.
Trevor Breen, who finished joint-third last year with Adventure De Kannan, which has been in top form locally and internationally this year, said his horse had an eye removed recently and the Derby was only his third show since the the trauma of the operation.
“He’s been in unbelievable form this year and I can’t ask any more of him. I’m genuinely pleased to see Phillip win,” he said.
See www.jeanniesequestrianworld.co.uk for picture special on the Derby tomorrow, Tuesday.