Sheffield showjumper Matthew Sampson has won a prestigious showjumping class at the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting.
The 26-year-old claimed the win with a catch ride in the highly competitive British Speed Derby, riding Christine Spanner’s 13-year-old gelding Topflight True Carlo.
He saw off stiff competition from class specialists and previous winners Harriet Nuttall and Guy Williams in second and third respectively.
Sampson said: “I rode Topflight True Carlo a few years ago - we aimed him at this class and he was third to Guy and Harriet. I only got riding him yesterday - because of circumstances. The girl who was going to ride him Christy Kemp, couldn’t. Christy did a lot of practice over derby style fences so he knew what he was doing. I Just tried to go as fast as I could. With these two in the class you never know when it’s over.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and watching it on TV - this is something everyone wants to win.
“I’ve never really had a horse that would suit the class that I could jump it on. I put him in a different bit that I used to ride him in, and everything came together. He loves that arena.
“Last time I did it I was a bit slow and I had the gate down so I really tried to set him up for that.
“Guy told me once to always give the horse a breather at some point in a speed round so I did that after the water jump – just gave him a bit of time and took my leg off.”
The horse’s owner, Christine Spanner from Derby, said: “I’ve had him since he was five months old, and he’s 13 now.
“I still ride him every day, I’ve competed him before I’ve jumped him, evented, team chased - you name it. But then I was too old! He also won the British Novice final at five years old at Scope.
“He’s my one and only – he lives with me at home, out in the field and I ride him out in all weathers, through all mud and sludge and hills, so this suits him.
“I’m literally speechless. I’ve watched this class since I was a young child - I can’t thank Matt enough for what he’s done.”