Paul Beecher became the first Irish winner of England’s famous Hickstead Derby since 2003, prevailing in a two horse jump off riding the Spring Elegance gelding Loughnatousa WB.
Beecher banked £35,000 (€42,000) for yesterday’s win. He was first to go in the class, and it was the first time a first drawn rider has won the Hickstead Derby.
Scoring the biggest success of his career to date, Beecher could not contain his delight at winning the Carpetright Derby, something he has “dreamed about since I was a little kid watching on television”.
Loughnatousa W B is a horse close to Beecher’s heart, having been bred by his family at their stud in Co Waterford, Ireland. The 29-year-old Irishman has been convinced since “WB” was a young horse that he would be the horse that made his career.
The first to go, the combination jumped a superb clear. But 24 riders followed and it was looking like none would be able to emulate the feat, until William Funnell and Dorada finally went clear to guarantee a jump-off.
Beecher went clear again in the second round, but Funnell, a three-time former winner, made it to the third fence before picking up four faults and retiring, thereby confirming Beecher as the 2012 winner.
The famous water jump claimed the hopes and dreams of four riders who otherwise would have gone clear, and they were joined by two other riders who finished on four faults apiece, with the six riders in total tying for third.
As well as Beecher, other Irish riders also enjoyed a good result, with Capt. David O’Brien with the Irish Sport Horse Mo Chroi one of six combinations who tied for third place, as was Trevor Breen and Adventure de Kannan. Trevor’s brother Shane Breen and the Irish Sport Horse KEC Alicante was one of eight who tied for 10th place, along with Gerard Clarke and the Irish Sport Horse Kellswater Crimson. Shane Breen also piloted the stallion Balloon into equal tenth.
• Joe Whitaker and Carla De Balou won the first showjumping class of the day, the Equimax Under 25 Masters. Whitaker, who was last to jump, was the only rider to go clear through both phases.
His slow and steady approach paid off and he won from the much quicker Nicole Pavitt (Festiena Van Texelhof), who had one pole down on the second phase to finish second, with Spencer Roe (Wonder Why) finishing third.
• In the showing classes, Deep Reflection was the winner of the Tattersalls/RoR Thoroughbred Show Horse Championship with Helen Newbold. The 12-year-old was trained by Martin Keighley and won £25,000 during his racing career.
Carol Bardo’s The Humdinger, who was second in his class, was moved up to take the tricolour in the Supreme Coloured Horse Championship with Jayne Webber, while Robert Walker and Vantage Point – the lightweight hunter winners – won the Gray Horseboxes Supreme Hunter championship in Hickstead’s International Arena.