The crowd at Hickstead show ground in England was treated to a thrilling afternoon of showjumping in the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby, with course specialist Matt Sampson taking the title for the second year running.
Speed Derby champion
Once again the 28-year-old British rider partnered Topflight True Carlo, who is a 14-year old British warmblood by Theodor, who is also a former event horse and is owned by Christine Spanner.
A total of 31 starters came forward for the class, which features many of the Derby fences, such as the Irish Bank water, and the Hickstead planks.
The class saw a number of thrills and spills, with no clear rounds, six eliminations and one combination who retired. By the half-way stage, Paul Crago (GBR) was in the lead with a time of 98.97 seconds on Valentino IX, but a number of former winners were yet to jump.
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.
Last to go was Matt Sampson, who rode the round of his life, and had just one fence down to finish on a winning time of 96.58 seconds. Ireland’s Paddy O’Donnell finished third on Hey There Delilah.
Thrills and spills
Last year Matt hadn’t sat on the Topflight True Carlo for three years, but this time he had a little more preparation.
“I just thought I’d try to do a similar round to last year and luckily it paid off,” said Matthew. “It was a lot more pressure this year; even walking round the showground people were saying ‘I can’t wait to see you on Saturday’.”
The sole American representative, Andrew Kocher, finished half-way down the pack with eight faults riding Ninkie De VY Z.
Catch up with all the highlights from this thrilling competition on July 11 at 9pm EST on Horse & Country TV.