TWENTY-nine year old Paul Beecher from Waterford on Sunday became the first Irish winner of England’s famous Hickstead Derby since 2003, when he went clear in a two horse jump off, riding the Spring Elegance gelding Loughnatousa W B.
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In the Netherlands, meanwhile, Tipperary’s Denis Lynch took fifth place in the hotly-contested Rotterdam Grand Prix, where 20 combinations went through to the jump-off.
With 31 starters at Hickstead, only Beecher and Britain’s William Funnell, aboard the Irish Sport Horse Dorada, managed a zero score in the first round of the traditionally gruelling course, but when the Irish rider went clear again Funnell did not complete the second round and retired.
Beecher, who came 13th in last year’s Hickstead Derby, collected 42,000 euro for his win today, and also saw fellow Irish riders feature strongly in the top ten finishers.
Capt. David O’Brien with the Irish Sport Horse Mo Chroi was one of six combinations who tied for third place, as was Trevor Breen and Adventure de Kannan. Brother Shane Breen and the Irish Sport Horse KEC Alicante was one of eight who tied for tenth place, along with Gerard Clarke and the Irish Sport Horse Kellswater Crimson. Shane Breen also piloted the stallion Balloon into equal tenth.
At Rotterdam, Denis Lynch was the only Irish rider to qualify for the large 20 horse jump-off, and though going clear again on Thomas Straumann’s gelding Lantinus, was a third of a second slower in breaking the beam than Dutch winner Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Tamino, who picked up the 50,000 euro first prize. Lynch, however, collected 14,000 euro for his place.