HARRIET Nuttall had a well-deserved win at the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting, winning the British Speed Derby with Silver Lift yesterday
Harriet (26) was runner up in no fewer than four of Hickstead’s major classes at last year’s Derby meeting, including the 2015 renewal of the Speed Derby. Twelve months ago she was narrowly beaten in this class by Guy Williams, but this year the roles were reversed with Guy finishing less than one second behind Harriet.
Yeovil-based Nuttall had already taken the lead with her first ride, Highland Cruiser, having clocked up the quickest time but adding eight seconds to her total to finish on 102.77sec. She then bettered her own time with second ride Silver Lift to hold the top two positions, before Guy relegated Highland Cruiser to third.
“This is my first win so it’s a burden removed to be honest – Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn keeps saying I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride!” joked Harriet.
Guy Williams had been aiming for a third consecutive win with Casper De Muze, and a record fifth Speed Derby win in total, but today he had to settle for second.
“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,” said Guy.
In the Tom Hudson Derby Trophy, Ireland’s Billy Twomey won on board the nine-year-old gelding Thomas, beating Phillip Miller and the in-form Unbelievable Lady into second place.
Billy was first to go in the jump-off, and he set a strong pace that couldn’t be bettered by either Phillip or Anthony Condon, who had two horses in the jump-off.
“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 great,” said Irishman Twomey. “I know Phillip’s horse is fast and careful so I wanted to put down a decent marker and then hopefully they’ll have to go for it and make some mistakes,” he added.
He has had the ride on Thomas about two months, and describes him as “very straightforward but relatively inexperienced.”
Billy won the Hamburg Derby in May and tomorrow will be one of the favourites for the Equestrian.com Derby, the feature class of this meeting. He rides Diaghilev, who finished equal second in the Hickstead Derby in 2015.
Other riders to watch out for include Trevor Breen, who is aiming for a third consecutive win with either Adventure De Kannan or Loughnatousa WB. Today’s Speed Derby winner Harriet Nuttall was equal second in the Derby last year with A Touch Imperious, so she is in with a chance to make it a Hickstead double. No one has won the Speed Derby and Hickstead Derby in the same year since Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher in 2005 – today, Harriet could emulate his feat.