American rider Julie Welles had her first ever Hickstead win on Thursday, June 20, claiming the honors in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
Riding the 10-year-old mare Ambra, Welles came out on top of a seven-strong jump-off. Crossing the finish in a time of 46.76 seconds, she was more than 1.6 seconds faster than her nearest rival, Britain’s William Fletcher. Phillip Miller took third place with Noble Warrior, with Ellen Whitaker in fourth with Jack Van’t Kattenheye.
Welles is based with Olympic riders Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton, and like them splits her time between Wellington and Warwickshire in England.
“We acquired the mare two months ago, so we haven’t had her very long,” she said. “She’s a really competitive horse, as long as I ride her the right way, and she was great in there. She’s a bit of a hot mare, and a bit Thoroughbred-like. If I think ‘fast,’ then she goes. Today in the jump-off was probably the smoothest, fastest round we’ve had together.”
The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting took place from June 20-23 at Hickstead in West Sussex, England. With international show jumping alongside national competition, showing championships and scurry driving, it is one of the biggest shows in Great Britain.