Via Hickstead Press
Olympic eventer Sharon Hunt, who won a team bronze medal in Beijing 2008, rode out the winner of the Douglas Bunn 1.35m Challenge today at Hickstead.
Sharon has being doing an increasing amount of showjumping in the past few seasons, but this unique class could have been designed for someone with plenty of cross-country experience. The course incorporated many of Hickstead's fixed fences, including the Devil's Dyke, Road Crossing and the less steep side of the bank, and it demanded boldness, speed and accuracy.
Sharon rode HSB Harriet, a seven-year-old grey mare that she's had for two years. Originally bought as an eventer, she had a few top 10 placings at Novice level, but after winning the Novice Derby here at Hickstead in 2014, Sharon began doing more showjumping with her instead.
"She won two 1.20m Finals at Millstreet in Ireland, so I decided to stick to showjumping as she was winning more prizemoney doing that!" said Sharon. "She's still green but this year she's been unreal. She's the nicest, kindest, consistent, most genuine mare, and for me to be able to learn to jump the bigger tracks is great for my experience."
A total of 35 horses came forward for the class, but only three jumped clear. Sharon was the first of those, setting a time of 91.99sec, and she was soon followed by John Crippen and Loughnatousa Diego, who finished on 94.44sec.
Among the last to go were Harriet Nuttall and Silver Lift, who won the 1.40m Open here yesterday and who are formidable against the clock. However, they finished more than 1.5sec in arrears and once again, the Hickstead Speed Derby runners-up had to settle for second behind Sharon.
Last to go was Darren Wise and Midnight Time, but while they got the fastest time of the day in 91.16sec, a costly brick out of the penultimate wall left them in fourth place.
Sharon's mare certainly looked like one to watch round this course. "It was nice to be sitting on something who is so rideable, and it was fun," she said. "I'd love to have a go at the Speed Derby and do some more 1.40m classes with her."
Hickstead regular Monica Ballard from Kent was on top form today. As well as winning the Animo All England 1.10m Amateur Championship, she also finished first in the All England 1.00m Open Championship, with both wins on board Anemoon Van De Kapel. Monica also picked up third in the 1.00m class with My Amazing Grace, behind John Crippen and Scholarship in second.
The first class of the day was the All England 1.20m Amateur Championship, which was won by Michaela Huntington and her own Alegro Z.
The All England Jumping Championships reach their conclusion tomorrow with the £6,000 Grand Prix. Entry is free to spectators so do join us for some more showjumping action as we bid farewell to our competition season.
For more information about the event, please visit the Hickstead website