Twenty-one Year-old Ella Dalton Wins Saturday’s British Speed Derby at Hickstead, Riding Quality Rubies N Diamonds
Hickstead, West Sussex, England – June 24, 2023 – It was Kent-based Ella Dalton’s (GBR) first ever attempt at the 1.45m world-ranking speed class, which features many of Hickstead’s unique obstacles. Drawn 11th to go out of the 26 starters, she and Quality Rubies n Diamonds set off in determined fashion, especially after an early fence down put pressure on. But even with the 4 second time-penalty, she still finished in a time of 101.72 seconds to take the win.
“I wasn’t happy fence two came down, but I just thought, keep going really fast – it doesn’t matter,” said Ella. “It was quite incredible, and quite shocking that I managed to win!”
The young rider has grown up competing in working hunter classes as well as eventing up to three-star level, which meant Hickstead’s permanent fences didn’t cause her much concern. So what did she make of her first trip round the course?
“I was definitely just trying to enjoy it, but the bank’s actually quite high up, so I was quite scared about that! But when you’re on a horse that’s bold and brave, you get the confidence from that.”
British riders filled the top four places, with second placed William Rekert (GBR) and Concert Z and third placed Jay Halim (GBR) on Zuniek VD Tojopehoeve, each having a fence down apiece to finish on 104.79 seconds and 106.21 seconds respectively.
William marked himself as one to watch for next year’s class, as Concert Z is a brand new ride. “We only picked him up last week, and this is literally the fourth time I’ve sat on him, so I’m very pleased!” he said.
Ryan Lockwood (Hyperion VP Wisbecq) was fourth, and the 2019 Al Shira’aa Derby winner Michael Pender was the best of the Irish riders in fifth place, riding HHS Fortune.
It was a class filled with thrills and spills – especially right at the end of the class. Three-time winner Harriet Biddick was looking like collecting another victory with the fantastic campaigner Silver Lift when her bridle broke over the Irish Bank three fences from home. The grey 18-year-old gamely carried on through the tricky treble of Hickstead planks despite Harriet having no bridle at all, but they were unable to jump the final fence and retired.
Third place Jay Halim took a tumble early on course with second ride Gentle. “I actually thought he would be the one for the win, and it’s gone the other way,” he explained. “The mare is a new horse to me and I’ve only had her a few months. She was amazing, and I’m really pleased with this for her first attempt.”
Final Results – £24,400 The British Speed Derby CSI 4* for the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy
1) Ella Dalton (GBR) & Quality Rubies ‘N Diamonds – 4 – 101.72
2) William Rekert (IRL) & Concert Z – 4 – 104.79
3) Jay Halim (GBR) & Zunieke vd Tojopehoeve – 4 – 106.21
Source: Press Release from Hickstead – The All England Jumping Course (AEJC)
Photos: © Hickstead – AEJC / Elli Birch / Boots and Hooves Photography