Robert Power, the National Hunt jockey who won the 2007 John Smith’s Grand National on Silver Birch, made a winning return to Hickstead Saturday. The Irish rider partnered the 12-year-old stallion Doonaveeragh O One to victory in the feature class, the LED Sport Europe Speed Derby. This fast and furious competition, with a £21,000 total prize fund, sees riders tackle some of Hickstead’s fixed obstacles such as the Irish Bank and the less steep side of the Derby Bank at speed, with each knock-down adding 4sec to the clock.
Robert grew up competing in showjumping, winning a silver medal at the European Young Rider Championships, before switching to become a professional jump jockey. He is the son of former top showjumper Capt Con Power, and the brother of Elizabeth Power, Irish Olympic eventer.
“My sister evented ‘Tommy’ up to three-star level but he was injured and switched to showjumping,” said Robert. “He’s got a very big stride, and because he’s done a lot of eventing, he’s not bothered by the unusual fences so I can kick on at them.”
Asked if he was quitting racing to go back to showjumping, he answered ‘Definitely not!’. “I’ll be racing for a good few years yet, hopefully, but I’ve been showjumping during the summer. I’m very competitive and love to win – so it doesn’t matter whether it’s racing or showjumping here on the big stage at Hickstead,” he added.
It was another Hickstead success for the Irishman, who finished third in last year’s Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix at the Longines Royal International Horse Show. In second place on Arantos, just 0.15sec in arrears, was new father David Simpson, whose partner Louise Pavitt recently had a baby.
The morning’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trophy went to Norway’s Geir Gulliksen and Vennoot, who finished just ahead of Ireland’s Shane Breen and Zarnita.
Sunday sees the 54th running of the Hickstead Derby, with a number of former winning horses due to line up including Promised Land, the ride of 2011 winner Tina Fletcher; Skip Two Ramiro, who won for Guy Williams in 2010, and last year’s winner Loughnatousa WB, who returns with new rider Michael Lonsdale.
Source: Press release from Victoria Spicer, Press Officer for the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead
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