The Hickstead Derby Show has always been one of my favourite shows, and this year was one of the best. Last year I fell off at the 3rd fence in the first class and then fell off again on the last day, so it would have been hard not to improve on that. The weather for the beginning of the show was beautiful and the going in the grass arenas absolutely perfect, and much as I moan about studding up, I love jumping on grass and the spacious Hickstead arenas where the horses can really get going in a forward rhythm.
Emma was first up on Wednesday in the Foxhunter in Ring 2. The first 12 in this class qualify for the main ring on Thursday, and with 154 starters it is a furiously fast class. Although Emma jumped a great double clear I was loath to race her on the first day so she finished in the low placings. Espirito Santo then jumped in the 1m on grass, just to get his Hickstead bearings, and then in the Novice Stakes (Newcomers) on the all weather. He was a little bit green, but jumped bravely and fluently for four faults.
Emma jumped really well again on Thursday, never touching a pole, but being kept out of the placings by me having a "sat-nav" moment and incurring some time faults. Espirito Santo jumped his first round on grass, feeling very babyish over the proper Hickstead fillers, but jumping a good round nevertheless.
On Friday morning Emma had her first class on the all-weather in Ring 4 in a very strong 1.25. Perfect for her and she was fabulous. Sadly I missed the final turn so we finished 6th when we could have been much higher. She is going so well now I must get my winner's head dusted off if it still exists and get those turns tighter. Espirito Santo jumped another good round over a very strong 1.10 in Ring 3.
The good weather departed with the most terrifying lightening strike at 8.00 am on Saturday morning. A direct hit to the power lines across the show ground made the loudest bang I have every heard and lit up the lorry so that I was seeing spots in front of my eyes. I was just putting Emma's bridle on and she literally levitated about three inches, and her heart was racing. The heavens opened and the ground became very wet very quickly. However, she still jumped a great double clear. The sun then came out, Anna and Mark arrived with a complete change of clothes and Espirito Santo finished his week with his best round on the all-weather.
We spent a very enjoyable afternoon watching the Speed Derby, before returning on Sunday to watch the Equestrian.com Derby. As always this was a fabulous competition, with a fantastic win for Trevor Breen and his long-time partner Adventure de Kannan, who just pipped last year's winners Phillip Miller and Caritiar Z by 2/100th of a second in the jump-off. It was also thrilling to see Jade Hooke and A New Era who are based with Breen Equestrian, put in a fantastic round to finish 3rd. Jade and "Era" have twice won the South African Derby and held the lead this afternoon before being joined on 8 faults by Harriet Nuttall, and eventually demoted by Trevor and Phillip.
Many thanks to my sponsors Diva Equine & Country who provide the horses with beautiful bridles and Cavalor supplements.