Harriet has been one of Hickstead’s most consistent performers in recent years, and in June she finished runner-up in the Hickstead Derby for the third consecutive year. But today she took her place at the head of the line-up, scoring her first international win here since taking the British Speed Derby in 2016.
“This win ranks alongside the Speed Derby,” said Harriet. “I’ve never been on a horse where I’ve been in contention for the Queens Cup, this was the first time I felt I could win it.”
The Queen Elizabeth II Cup used to be an international championship open to women riders only, but in 2008 it was changed to become a national final open to the highest-ranked male and female riders in the British Showjumping rankings.
Eight of the country’s brightest talents went through to the jump-off in today’s class, with Harriet making the most of being drawn last to go. Riding Galway Bay Jed, Harriet took every calculated risk and galloped to the last to finish on a time of 32.64sec, nearly 1.5sec ahead of her nearest rival.
“He’s jumping very well at this level and he’s really shown it today. He’s a bit of an easier ride now than he used to be – he was a bit strong to start with and would run off after a fence,” she said of the nine-year-old Irish gelding.
Harriet will be back in the International Arena tomorrow when she rides her Al Shira’aa Derby runner-up A Touch Imperious in the Longines King George V Gold Cup.
In second place in today’s Queen’s Cup were Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker, another pair that came close to winning the Al Shira’aa Derby when finishing third in this year’s renewal. Leicestershire-based Holly broke her leg in February but is back on top form, having also won Hickstead’s Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard in June.
Drawn second last to go in the Queen’s Cup, Holly posted a time of 34.10sec to go ahead of Ireland’s Michael Duffy – but her lead was to be short-lived with Harriet going on to better her time.
Lady riders featured heavily in today’s results, with Swiss rider Nadja Peter Steiner taking this morning’s Bunn Leisure Salver with the 13-year-old mare Celeste 26, ahead of the USA’s Lauren Hough on Quantas 15.
“I’ve had some good placings here at Hickstead, but this is my first win so it’s really fantastic. I’m so happy with both of my horses, we’ll go home now and they can both have a little break,” said Nadja.
In the British Speed Classic, Joe Whitaker and Lavarno were the clear winners, finishing more than 2.5sec ahead of the reigning Al Shira’aa Derby champion Nigel Coupe.
“Winning in that atmosphere in the big ring, it’s what you dream of and what you work hard for,” said Joe. “I won the under-25 final here back in 2012, but this would be my most prestigious win.”
In the showing classes, Oxfordshire’s Jo Bates had a day to remember when winning the Brereton Supreme Hack Championship with Suzanna Welby’s seven-year-old Elusive.
“I’ve had many placings and reserves but this is my first Supreme here,” said Jo. “This horse really is special, he just loves the big occasion. He has such charisma and star quality.”
Some of the horse world’s smallest champions were on show today in the BMHS Supreme Miniature Horse Championship. The overall winner was Chichester’s Alison Parsons with Spotlight Bo Diddly.
“He’s won his class here three times but this is his first time as Supreme Champion,” said Alison. “To win Supreme here at Hickstead is just the absolute tops – it’s overwhelming. It’s the one big title he hadn’t won so it really is incredible.”
Tomorrow the Longines Royal International Horse Show reaches its conclusion, marking the end of Hickstead’s international season.
The showjumping highlights of the final day include the €200,000 Longines King George V Gold Cup and the Royal International Accumulator. All of the week’s showing champions will come forward to contest The British Horse Society Supreme Ridden Horse Championship and the de la Hey Family Supreme Pony Championship.
There will also be a special presentation to Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton, in recognition of his amazing achievements here at Hickstead.