The Netherlands’ Kevin Jochems celebrated his birthday – he’ll be 23 on Sunday – in fine style winning the King George V gold cup from the front to record his first 5* grand prix on Captain Cooper.
Seven of the 47 starters came forward to the jump-off over the strong 1.60m track with the double of gates following the water causing the most problems.
And although the rain was perhaps welcome after the drought-filled weeks of sunshine, the heavy downpour in the jump-off was ill-timed. Kevin nevertheless set a sizzling standard on the Namelus R/Corland 11-year-old and no-one came near.
“I had a very, very good feeling about my horse today. The jump-off had very long lines which suits my horse, so I went as fast as possible. When I came out I said, ‘I think that is quick enough’,” said Kevin.
“I can’t quite describe the feeling – I already feel very honoured to be here at Hickstead and to be in the [Nations Cup] team on Sunday. It’s incredible that my name is going to be on this trophy alongside these [famous] names and I’m part of that now.
“My parents are farmers and I’ve been riding ponies since I was six. About a year ago I moved to be based with Leon Thijssen, and I now have a couple of great horses and some great opportunities.”
Italy’s Massimo Grossato was the closest with second on the nine-year-old Lazzaro Delle Schiave 2.29 sec in arrears.
Amanda Derbyshire was the only British representative in the jump-off and slotted into third from second draw on Roulette BH – a Moschino nine-year-old bred in Britain by Downes Howard produced by Ben Walker and Phillip Miller.
“This is his first five-star Grand Prix and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Amanda. “The advice from Nick Skelton was go in to win it and I thought I was really fast but obviously I wasn’t!”
William Funnell and his Hickstead Derby winner Billy Buckingham left all the fences intact in round one but proved fractionally over the time for one time penalty and finished eighth.
Joe Clayton jumped to the top in the Bunn Leisure International Stakes on Jane Heerbeck’s Carolus K DHI.
Thirty tackled this 1.45m speed with Joe cruising ahead to win on the Indoctro/Gran Corrado 11-year-old claiming a whole second in hand.
“It was all down to the horse – I didn’t think I gave it the best ride, but he is naturally quick, and he gives you confidence because you know you can trust him to the fences. He loves that Arena – he loves big open spaces where he can run and jump,” said Joe, who has moved from his native Yorkshire to a new base in Melton Mowbray.
Sussex-based Irishman Trevor Breen guided Brendon Stud’s home-bred Warrior nine-year-old Noble Warrior into second. Holly Smith was slightly slower for third on the Zambesi eight-year-old Fruselli and Julie Andrews was just 0.01 sec behind for fourth on Wilando B.
William Funnell headed the seven [1.40m] and eight-year-old [1.45m] championship on the seven-year-old Billy Kodak.
Thirty-two contended this speed class with William taking the top spot on the Billy Mexico/Vechta seven-year-old with 0.79 sec to spare. Mark Armstrong made it a British one-two with second spot on Old Lodge’s Echo Van’t Spieveld/Lord Z eight-year-old Juharah.
Six clears were produced with Ireland’s Trevor Breen on the seven-year-old Zilton SL Z and Anthony Condon aboard the eight-year-old Friso finishing third and fifth, sandwiching The USA’s Laura Kraut into fourth on Greatfull. Donald Whitaker beat the winning time by an amazing five sec but four faults dropped him and Tom Williams’ seven-year-old Toki II into seventh.
Photos © Jumping Around & Nigel Goddard/Hickstead