Robert Power, the National Hunt jockey who won the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National on Silver Birch, made a winning return to Hickstead on Saturday.
The Irish rider partnered the 12-year-old stallion Doonaveeragh O One to victory in the afternoon’s feature class, the LED Sport Europe Speed Derby. This fast and furious competition, with a £21,000 total prize fund, sees riders tackle some of Hickstead’s fixed obstacles such as the Irish Bank and the less steep side of the Derby Bank at speed, with each knock-down adding 4 seconds to the clock.
Robert grew up competing in showjumping, winning a silver medal at the European Young Rider Championships, before switching to become a professional jump jockey. He is the son of former top showjumper Capt Con Power, and the brother of Elizabeth Power, Irish Olympic eventer.
“My sister evented ‘Tommy’ up to three-star level but he was injured and switched to showjumping,” said Robert. “He’s got a very big stride, and because he’s done a lot of eventing, he’s not bothered by the unusual fences so I can kick on at them.”
Asked if he was quitting racing to go back to showjumping, he answered ‘Definitely not!’- and said he would be riding at at Gowran Park races the following day.
“I’ll be racing for a good few years yet, hopefully, but I’ve been showjumping during the summer. I’m very competitive and love to win – so it doesn’t matter whether it’s racing or showjumping here on the big stage at Hickstead,” he added.
It was another Hickstead success for the Irishman, who finished third in last year’s Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix at the Longines Royal International Horse Show.
In second place on Arantos, just 0.15sec in arrears, was new father David Simpson, whose partner Louise Pavitt recently had a baby.
This morning’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trophy went to Norway’s Geir Gulliksen and Vennoot, who finished just ahead of Ireland’s Shane Breen and Zarnita.
In the showing classes, the Supreme Hack championship went to Jayne Ross (nee Webber) and Broadshard Simplicity; while the Working Hunter HOYS qualifier went to Melanie Hennah and Anchorman.