igel Coupe & Golver’s Hill. Ph via Hickstead
Britain’s Nigel Coupe rode Golvers Hill to victory in the Al Shira’aa Hickstead CSI4* Derby on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Hickstead in Great Britain, following a two-way jump-off with Harriet Nuttall.
Nigel, 46, first rode in this class in 1990 and has been knocking on the Derby door for a number of years, finishing 2nd in 2015 and 5th in this class 12 months ago. Drawn 16th out of the 26 starters, Nigel was the first rider to produce a faultless round, and for a long time he remained the sole clear.
It wasn’t until the third last combination to go, Harriet Nuttall and A Touch Imperious, that another clear round was recorded and a jump-off guaranteed.
Both riders came back to tackle the shortened course, with first to go Coupe setting a strong pace. But his hopes of producing a clear and putting the pressure on Nuttall were dashed when he had the Derby rails down after the open water.
Nuttall could then risk going for a steady clear, but when the Derby rails caught her out as well she had to kick on – and unluckily the final fence also fell, leaving her on eight faults and in second place.
It’s a position Nuttall, 27, has held for three consecutive years in the Hickstead Derby, and she was also 2nd in Saturday’s British Speed Derby, a class she did win 12 months ago.
“However you imagine it would be to win the Derby, it probably feels about 100 times better!”
But while there was disappointment for Nuttall, for Couple and Golvers Hill it was a day of celebrations as the Lancashire-based rider finally had his name added to the iconic Boomerang Trophy. He also gets to take home and keep the new Al Shira’aa Trophy, which has been especially designed in celebration of the new title sponsorship of this famous show jumping class.
“It’s amazing – however you imagine it would be to win the Derby, it probably feels about 100 times better!” said Coupe. “It’s an amazing venue and the ground is second to none. I’d come down to Hickstead when I was on ponies, and then stay on to watch the Derby.”
Coupe paid tribute to Golvers Hill, Susan Simmons’ 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who came to Hickstead on the back of a recent win in the Hamburg Derby Trial.
“If you haven’t got a horse capable you won’t be anywhere near winning. I’m forever indebted to him,” he added. “He likes the limelight. There are probably better, more talented horses out there but he just loves his job. It’s without a doubt my biggest win.”
There hasn’t been a female winner of the Hickstead Derby since 2011 when Tina Fletcher won on board Promised Land. While Nuttall came tantalisingly close to becoming the sixth woman to take the title today, another lady rider marked herself as one to watch in future renditions of the class, with Leicestershire’s Holly Smith finishing 3rd equal on Quality Old Joker, the winner of Thursday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
Smith shared 3rd spot on four faults with two Irish riders – Billy Twomey and Diaghilev, who like Smith has finished 2nd for the past two years; and former World Champion Dermott Lennon with Gelvins Touch.
Three-time Derby champion William Funnell produced one of the best rounds of the day on the talented nine-year-old homebred horse Billy Buckingham. The pair left every fence standing, but a slight back-step at the top of the Derby Bank and a time fault left them in sixth place with five faults.
Tom O’Brien from title sponsors Al Shira’aa commented after the class: “We’re delighted with how today has gone. Everyone rode amazingly. It’s a huge test for horse and rider, and to jump round clear means you’re one of the legends.”
Watch Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill’s winning round via USEF Network right here:
Two combinations managed to go clear at this year's Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby but it was Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill who took the win after an exciting jump-off!
Posted by USEF Network on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Earlier on Sunday morning, 20-year-old Jake Saywell won the Hickstead Under 25 Masters riding the 10-year-old mare Havinia Van De Roshoeve.
“It’s a great feeling to win in the International Arena on Derby day. It’s just phenomenal – it’s those kicks and buzzes that you do it for. I’ve got a few years yet in this class so I hope to be back again next year,” said Jake, who used to be based at Hickstead. “I spent a year training with Shane Breen here and left in September to set up my own yard,” added the Nottinghamshire-based rider, who is now aiming for the Young Rider European Championships.
Several showing classes reached their conclusion today in the International Arena, including the prestigious final of the Retraining of Racehorses/Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Series Championship, which was won by Hampshire’s Southerly Roberts and the former Flat racehorse Imperial Ruby.
The Al Shira’aa Derby marked the finale of the four-day Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, but in just over four weeks’ time the All England Jumping Course Hickstead will play host to the CSIO5* Longines Royal International Horse Show.
For full results, click here.