Rowe races round for Speed Derby success

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Elliott Rowe won today’s British Speed Derby at Hickstead (c) Boots and Hooves Photography

A new name was added to the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy today at Hickstead, when Elliott Rowe landed the British Speed Derby with the 11-year-old stallion Hyperion VP Wisbecq.

Drawn 19th out of 26, Elliott scorched round the course with just one fence down, to finish on a total of 100.97sec, taking over the lead from Jessica Hewitt and Hot Bluebird (eventual third). Last to go was the three-time champion Harriet Biddick and Silver Lift, who were aiming to not only set new records with a fourth win but also to redress last year’s viral mishap when a broken bridle led them to retire.

But having both parts of the Road Jump (fence six) down added an expensive 8sec to their time. Although Harriet and the 19-year-old picked up in speed and confidence as their round progressed, with no further fences down, the ended up on a time of 103.12sec to finish second.

“I’m absolutely buzzing – the jumps were coming at me quite fast, but he was brilliant,” said the Uckfield-based rider. “It’s my second time jumping the Speed Derby; last year, Ryan Lockwood rode the horse for me because I had a broken collarbone. So today, I didn’t have to watch from the stands.

“I’ve always had a plan about if I won something like this, and what I’d say afterwards – but I’ve got to say, it’s a bit better in real life! It’s a dream come true, to join all these riders to have won the Speed Derby,” he added. “I’ve had him about three years now. He’s a cool little guy.”

Last year’s winner Ella Dalton – who was unable to defend her title after a fall from an earlier ride – had credited Elliott as a trainer for being instrumental to her success. “It was good training someone to win, but winning it myself is next level,” he added.

Although Harriet was disappointed by her two early fences, she hopes to return in 12 months’ time to get that record win. “I’m really proud of Silver Lift today. He had a slip in the Speedy Derby Qualifier on Thursday, so I was maybe a bit cautious early on today, and then I actually rode him a lot better by the end of the course. But he was just great, and he really enjoyed it again – at 19 years old, he came out bouncing. We’ll see how he feels for next year – he went round there so easily today so there’s no reason not to think about next year, as long as he feels as good.”

Earlier today, William Fletcher enjoyed his first Hickstead International Arena win, beating 56 rivals to take the honours in the Hickstead Master’s Trophy with the 11-year-old grey mare Iwalinde.

“It’s fantastic – I just cannot believe it,” said William. “The horse jumped her absolute socks off. I’m just so pleased – to go in that ring with so much history, and so much prestige, and to come out with a win like that against some of the best riders in the world just felt fantastic.

For full results click here.

Press release Hickstead Press

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