His victory came on his 2017 champion Topflight True Carlo, who is a former event horse owned by Christine Spanner.
A total of 31 starters came forward for the annual speed showcase, which is held round the same course each year and features unique fences such as the Irish Bank and the Hickstead planks.
Today’s class saw a number of thrills and spills; with no clear rounds, six eliminations and one retiral. By the half way stage, Britain’s Paul Crago was leading in a time of 98.97 sec, having had one fence down with Valentino IX, though a number of former winners were still to come.
But four-time Speed Derby champion Guy Williams saw his chances of a fifth victory vanish when Casper De Muze knocked down four fences to finish out of the placings. Similarly, Harriet Nuttall had an uncharacteristic three jumps down to end up fifth on her 2016 winner Silver Lift.
While Ireland’s Paddy O’Donnell and Hey There Delilah produced the fastest round of all time, they knocked down two fences to relegate them to third in 99.48sec. It eased the pressure off for last to go Matthew Sampson, who tipped just one fence to finish on 96.58sec.
“I just thought I’d try to do a similar round to last year and luckily it paid off, and I was quick enough even with one fence down,” said Matthew. “It was a lot more pressure this year to be honest, even walking round the showground people were saying ‘I can’t wait to see you Saturday’.”
Matt now has a very good chance of winning Sunday’s Al Shira’aa Derby, having won the Hamburg Derby in May with his other ride, Gloria Van Zuuthoeve, No one has won both the Speed Derby and the Hickstead Derby in the same year since Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher in 2005.
Ireland’s Shane Breen secured his second international win of the week when winning the Hickstead Master’s Trophy with the nine-year-old stallion Clyde VA.
“It’s a little bit unexpected,” said Shane. “For an inexperienced horse, it was quite a difficult course but he’s incredibly careful – I can count on one hand the number of fences he’s had down.
“He’s a class horse with a big stride and he made it very easy, but whether he won or lost I’m delighted with him so the win is a bonus. He’ll be a super horse for next year. We just need to keep building on his experience and I think he could definitely be a championship horse.”
The new £1,500 Harcour Hickstead Amateur championship drew to a conclusion today, with the title going to Amy Carnet and Ja Lo II, while Ireland’s Christopher Megahey and Curprice claimed the Hickstead Under 25 Masters.
In the showing classes, producer Jo Bates claimed the Alltech Supreme Hack Championship on Elusive.