Guy Williams got his Derby campaign off to a flying start today when winning the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard at Hickstead. He partnered the 12-year-old gelding Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof to head the €12,000 class, ahead of Hickstead-based Irishman Shane Breen and Farao Van T Vennehof.
Guy is the reigning winner of the British Speed Derby, and he hopes to repeat his win on Saturday with the talented Casper de Muze. “Winning that is my main target this week,” he explained.
Williams is also one of an elite band of riders to win Hickstead’s most famous class – the Hickstead Derby itself. He won in 2010 with Skip Two Ramiro, whom he hopes to ride in Sunday’s Equestrian.com Derby.
But first he must qualify in tomorrow’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, in which he has three horses entered. “I’ve got Skip Two Ramiro, though he’s quite old now, plus Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof and Basic. The latter will run in the Derby Trial but not the Derby itself, as it’s just to give him a look – I’m hoping to bring him back for the Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead next month,” said Guy.
The 44-year-old rider was based in Canterbury for many years but last year he made the decision to move to Normandy in France, having been unable to find a property in the UK that met his requirements. “I like to win at home,” said Guy. “Hickstead is my favourite show outdoors. I could have gone ten minutes down the road [in France] but I chose to come here instead.”
Earlier today, in the Stoner Jewellers Vase, it was 23-year-old Irish rider Richard Howley who headed the line-up, partnering new ride Verlindo. “Myself and my partner Morgan’s parents bought him for me six weeks ago so I had an older horse to compete in the big classes,” he said. “That’s the first class I’ve won in the International Arena. It’s amazing here, definitely one of the best arenas in the world. When you hear that bell go you definitely get the shivers.”
It had been a great day for Richard, who also came first and second in the Camardo Coffee Speed Derby qualifier, with Belinka VH Overlede Goed and Chinook. He hopes to give Guy Williams a good run for his money on Saturday. “I’ve got two very nice horses coming forward to the British Speed Derby now – it’s definitely one I want to win,” said Richard.
Today’s feature class is the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial. The action will be streamed live to a worldwide audience at Hickstead.tv.