Speedy by name, speedy by nature, Hickstead’s British Speed Derby didn’t disappoint, with Harriet Nuttall pulling out all the stops on Silver Lift to take the title.
After coming second twice and third once in this class, Harriet finally got her hands on the trophy – even though her nemesis Guy Williams was last to go.
Harriet took an early lead on Highland Cruiser II in a time of 102.77sec despite having two down. Torrential rain brought proceedings to a standstill while the storm passed over, by which time the weather had taken it’s toll.
“Before the rain the going was perfect, but afterwards the horses were slipping around,” said Harriet.
Riders were forced to take it steady, but poles still fell – until Harriet rode in for a second time on board Silver Lift – the horse on whom she came second to Guy last year. The pocket rocket flew around, leaving all the fences up, and posting a new fastest time of 97.53sec.
Last in was speed demon Guy, who had his eye on the prize as usual. However, Casper de Muze lost his footing a few times, which slowed him down and despite taking a flyer to the last they crossed the line in 98.51sec to take second place.
“He was slipping around and tiring towards the end, so I was taking care of him a bit,” said Guy. “But I miss-judged it.
“Harriet deserved to win it, and I’m happy to be second. If anyone is going to beat me I’d rather it was Harriet. She should have won last year, but I got lucky. This year, she got lucky.”
Harriet came second a total of four times at Hickstead last year, with Daisy Bunn referring to her as ‘the bridesmaid, but never the bride’.
“It’s a massive weight off my shoulders to finally win here,” said Harriet. “I nearly went too fast last year, which was why I had one down, so I knew Silver Lift could do it, I just had to go clear.”
Highland Cruiser was third and Harriet said it could be his last Speed Derby.
“He’s 16 – he’s been my school master for years, but he struggles at this height now, so I think this might his last one.”