Elizabeth the first

Last year Elizabeth 'Beezie' Madden became the first woman ever to win the Longines King George V Gold Cup. In 2015, she did it again. Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer caught up with America's first lady of showjumping. 

JP_A0447 (Medium).JPG

It had been more than 50 years since any rider had achieved back-to-back wins in the Longines King George V Gold Cup. It’s a difficult class to win, with fields comprising the very best international riders, huge fences and fearsomely technical lines set across Hickstead’s vast, undulating International Arena. In its 105-year history, only four riders have managed to win this class in consecutive years, and last year Elizabeth ‘Beezie’ Madden became the fifth.

Beezie had already set a record at Hickstead when winning the class for the first time in 2014, becoming the first lady rider to claim this historic title. The class had been restricted to men only until it was opened up to female riders in 2008 – but it took a further six years until Beezie recorded a victory for the fairer sex. Having achieved that record first, she added to her Hickstead laurels in 2015 by becoming the first lady rider to win twice, as well as the first woman ever to score consecutive wins. She was also the first rider ever to win the class twice in a row since the Longines Royal International Horse Show moved to Hickstead in 1992.

Both of Beezie Madden’s wins at Hickstead came courtesy of Cortes C, the striking black gelding Belgian Warmblood that Beezie has partnered since 2012. Some horses relish the open space of the main ring at the All England Jumping Course, and Cortes C is undoubtedly one of them. “Cortes C obviously loves it there. He likes places with a big atmosphere to make him rise to the occasion, and he prefers a good grass arena to jumping on sand,” she adds.

His rider also loves coming here to Hickstead. “It’s among the very top showgrounds in the world, especially since all the improvements were made to the International Arena a few years ago. Hickstead seems to retain a real countryside atmosphere while also modernising and moving with the times,” says Beezie.

In the 2015 Longines King George V Gold Cup, only six riders jumped clear round Kelvin Bywater’s testing 1.60m track, with a tricky double of gates after the water jump causing more than half the field to fault. First to go in the jump-off was The Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling, who went clear in 49.54sec, but Beezie and Cortes C proceeded to knock an impressive 6sec off the time. Theirs was a textbook example of a winning jump-off – perfectly judged tight turns, a strong pace, with the long-striding Cortes C eating up the turf of the International Arena and Beezie allowing the horse his head while maintaining a relentless speed and rhythm.

Their resulting fast clear put pressure on the remaining four riders. France’s Penelope Leprevost was also clear but fractionally slower, while all the other riders each knocked a fence, including 19-year-old Brit Jessica Mendoza, whose unlucky four-faults at the final fence cost her the win. For the second year in a row, Beezie was handed the historic gold trophy. “It was incredible to win there the first time but to do it two years in a row was just amazing,” says Beezie.

Cortes C has won legions of fans thanks to his international successes and his quirky jumping style – if you look closely at photos of him jumping, you’ll see he crosses his forelegs over a fence. But Beezie laughs when you mention this unusual trait. “You actually don’t know he does it until you see photos of him jumping – he feels like he’s really good in his front end over a fence,” she explains.

The horse came from Belgian showjumper Gregory Wathelet, with whom he’d been consistently placed at international competitions. Looking back on his early career, Gregory remembers: “Cortes was always an exceptional horse.” He had taken on the ride when Cortes was seven, and could immediately spot his potential. “He was very stiff, couldn’t change his leads and jumped only up to 1.20m in the ring at this point, but he already possessed all the scope and was very careful.” After one season together, he was so impressed that he persuaded a sponsor to buy him. Less than a year later, aged just eight, Cortes and Wathelet were second in a World Cup class in Malines. “Offers were coming quickly from people interested in buying the horse and it became difficult to refuse,” he said.

Beezie had heard about the horse, and was keen. “Gregory had gone well in some indoor shows with Cortes C, and Johan Heins found out about him and sent us a video,” says Beezie. She arranged to try the then nine-year-old. “I loved him the first day I tried him,” she recalls. “I always try a new horse two days in a row to get to know them, and I almost didn’t want to come back after the first day just in case something went wrong the second time, because I liked him so much.”

While Gregory was sad to see him go, he knew he had gone to a superb home. “My satisfaction came from knowing that he went to such a great rider, thus allowing him to have a fantastic career,” he wrote on his website.

The new partnership gelled quickly, with the pair winning their first Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Valkenswaard that summer. A number of international wins and placings followed, with Beezie and Cortes C making their Hickstead debut in 2013, where they helped the USA to finish second behind Germany in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup.

They started the 2014 season with a clutch of wins in the Winter Equestrian Festival, before returning to Hickstead that summer. This time, they produced a phenomenal double, with the USA winning the Nations Cup and Beezie, of course, taking honours in the Longines King George V Gold Cup.

That summer they went to Normandy for the Alltech World Equestrian Games, where the USA won bronze and Beezie reached the famous individual final, when the top four riders all jump one round on the other competitors’ horses. Cortes was the only horse to jump four clear rounds that day, looking as fresh in the final round as he had in the first. He claimed the Best Horse honours that day, while Beezie won an individual bronze medal. “I’ve always loved this horse and thought he would be the championship horse I’ve had and I think he proved that,” said Beezie afterwards.

Then came the 2015 season, and their record second win in the King George at Hickstead. This summer, she won’t be able to return to Hickstead for a third crack at winning, as she has her sights set on a rather important competition – the Rio Olympics.. Beezie has already won two team Olympic golds and individual bronze, and she’ll no doubt be hoping to add to her collection this summer with either Cortes or Simon.

No horse and rider partnership has ever won the Longines King George V Gold Cup three times in a row, and only two have managed the feat of winning it more than twice – Harry Llewelyn and the great Foxhunter and Italy’s Piero d'Inzeo and The Rock, more than 60 years ago. We might have to wait another year to see if Beezie can become the next – but if anyone can do it, Beezie can.

All about Cortes C

Born: 2002

Breeding: Randel Z x Orchidee van de Tombeele

Ironically nicknamed ‘Tiny’ in the stable – he’s a tall, huge, solid horse – Cortes C is equally big in character. “He’s very sweet and loves attention – though he’ll soon let you know if there is something he doesn’t like,” says Beezie.

So what makes him special? “Obviously his scope and carefulness, but his temperament is so super as well. He really wants to please, and do well for you.”

When he’s not on the competition circuit, the Belgian Warmblood splits his time between Beezie’s bases in Cazenovia, New York and Wellington, Florida. He loves turnout, seeking out treats, is super friendly and is often getting into trouble for getting into everything. He’s not keen on other horses, however, and only really tolerates his stablemate Simon.

This article first appeared in July 2016


Harriet Nuttall Q&A

Showjumper Harriet Nuttall has an extraordinary record at Hickstead, having won the Science Supplements Speed Derby twice, the Science Supplements BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix - plus finishing runner-up three times in the Al Shira'aa Derby. Alex Irwin caught up with her to find out more about what makes her tick. 

Read more

Holly Smith Q&A

Alex Irwin caught up with Hickstead star Holly Smith at the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships 

Read more

The unstoppable Irish

Victoria Goff looks back at Ireland's stunning win in the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain, and goes back into the history books to remember the other memorable Irish wins at Hickstead 

Read more

William’s fabulous four

William Funnell joined the elite band of four-time winners of the Hickstead Derby last summer. Victoria Goff spoke to him about what it means to join the likes of Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken and brothers John and Michael Whitaker. 

Read more

Top Speed

We take a look back over the history of the British Speed Derby. 

By Victoria Goff

Read more

Five of the best

Five riders share the record of having four wins in the Hickstead Derby. Victoria Goff takes a look through the archives to relive these legendary performances. 

Read more

Coming of age

A few days before his 21st birthday, James Whitaker scored his first major Hickstead win. Victoria Goff caught up with him ahead of the 2019 Longines Royal International Horse Show. 

Read more

A Platinum President

The BHS President Martin Clunes is a regular visitor to Hickstead. Victoria Goff finds out more about his role at the British Horse Society, and why he loves coming to our shows 

Read more

10 magical showing moments

We take a look back over some of the standout showing moments from the 2017 season 

Read more

Miss Consistent

Harriet Nuttall proved she's no Hickstead bridesmaid, when adding yet another major title to her CV last summer. Victoria Goff caught up with the reigning Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner 

Read more

Perfect Timing

Paul Tapner talks to Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff about his first win in the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge

Read more

Fiesta Time

Brazil had an extraordinary run of form at last year's Longines Royal International Horse Show. Victoria Goff finds out more. 

Read more

Worth the wait

Victoria Goff describes the wait Nigel Coupe had before he finally become the Al Shira'aa Derby Champion in 2017. 

Read more

Doing it for Ella

Hickstead's press officer Victoria Goff caught up with Matthew Sampson, the winner of the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby 

Read more

Race against time

Victoria Goff takes a look back at some of the famous Hickstead Derby jump-offs that have taken place over the years. 

Read more

A New Era

Victoria Goff finds out more about Al Shira'aa, the title sponsors of the Hickstead Derby 

Read more

Q&A with Georgie Strang

Next week sees one of the UK’s largest horse shows open their gates for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show. We caught up with one of the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge competitors, Georgie Strang, and found out how she’s feeling about returning to Hickstead for her second shot at the title…

Read more

12 moments we loved at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

The Al Shira’aa Derby drew our June fixture to a close, and what a way to round off four fabulous sunny days of showjumping and showing. We take a look back at some of the best moments of this year’s show.

Read more

#RoadToHickstead contenders reveal...

We ask some of our leading Al Shira'aa Derby contenders some killer questions.

Read more

Harriet and Nigel go head-to-head

Two of the main Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby contenders, Harriet Nuttall and Nigel Coupe, discuss this year's challenge.

Read more

Hickstead Q&A - Hamad Ali Al Kirbi

UAE rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi made his Hickstead debut last summer when he competed at the Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting. We caught up with him ahead of this year's show. 

Read more

Can you spot our Mystery Guests?

We're very busy preparing the International Arena ahead of this year's Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting CSI4*, and with spring being somewhat late to arrive this year we've had to ask some special guests to join our Ground Crew! 

Read more

Billy the King

Ireland's Billy Twomey enjoyed an amazing run of success at the 2016 BHS Royal International Horse Show, including a win in the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup. Victoria Goff spoke to him about his golden run.

Read more

A home from home

Hickstead is very familiar stomping ground for David Simpson, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner in 2016. Victoria Goff spoke to him about winning on 'home territory'. 

Read more

The One to Watch

In the run up to the 2017 Longines Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff caught up with Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge winner Esib Power.  

Read more

The nation's favourites

Earlier this year, we asked you to vote for your favourite Derby-winning horses. Victoria Spicer counts down your top 10. 

Read more

An unforgettable Adventure

Adventure De Kannan is one of the most successful Hickstead horses of recent times. Victoria Goff looks back at the remarkable career of the one-eyed wonder horse

Read more

William Whitaker: How to win the Derby

The 2016 Hickstead Derby winner William Whitaker shares his winning formula! 

Read more

William Whitaker: Advice for Hickstead newcomers

If you haven't ridden at the All England Jumping Course before, reigning Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker shares his insights into competing here.

Read more

William Whitaker: The perfect warm-up

The current Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker explains how to nail your warm-up routine, both at home and at competitions. 

Read more

William Whitaker: Winning a jump-off

Want to nail those jump-off rounds? Hickstead Derby 2016 champion William Whitaker shares his advice, and suggests two training exercises to improve your performance against the clock. 

Read more

William Whitaker's training secrets

In the run up to this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, reigning Derby champion William Whitaker shares his showjumping training insights.

Words by Victoria Spicer, photos by Daisy Honeybunn

Read more

6 links between Hickstead and the Grand National

The home of British Showjumping and the most famous race on earth have more in common than you might think, writes Victoria Spicer...

Read more

A winning debut

Chloe Winchester, winner of the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2015, chats to Victoria Spicer about her winning debut at Hickstead

Read more

Elizabeth the first

Last year Elizabeth 'Beezie' Madden became the first woman ever to win the Longines King George V Gold Cup. In 2015, she did it again. Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer caught up with America's first lady of showjumping. 

Read more

12 moments we loved at this year's Derby meeting

There was rain, there was mud, but much more importantly there was some brilliant competition at this year's Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting. We choose our top 12 moments from this year's show. 

Read more

Back on top

Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the connections of Loughnatousa WB, a horse who holds a very special record in the Derby...

Read more

Three in a row

Journalist Andrew Baldock takes a look back over the Hickstead archives at the three riders who have won the Derby three times in succession - and finds out which other riders came close...

Read more

A cool guy

Victoria Spicer chats to Guy Williams, the winner of the 2015 British Speed Derby, about setting records and why Hickstead will always be special to him

Read more

Eight great Derby rivalries

There have been some amazing clashes in the 56 years of the Hickstead Derby. Pippa Cuckson takes a look at some of the great rivalries over the years...

Read more

Breen’s Derby dream comes true

Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the 2014 winner of the Equestrian.com Derby, Trevor Breen. 

Read more

Five Minutes with Fran Callan

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... series, we caught up with Fran Callan, the head travelling groom for Trevor Breen. As part of her job, she looks after Hickstead megastar and reigning Equestrian.com Derby winner Adventure De Kannan...

Read more

Miller's tale

Victoria Spicer meets Phillip Miller, winner of the 2013 Hickstead Derby, to talk about his rise from riding school lessons to Hickstead champion. 

Read more

A lesson with Derby winner Phillip Miller

When we ran an exclusive Hickstead Derby Community competition to win a lesson with the 2013 Derby winner Phillip Miller, we had a great response. In the end, we selected 25-year-old Jodine Brooks from Kent and her seven-year-old Dutch gelding, Camorasun.

Read more

15 facts about the Derby course

From poles that 'twang', resident newts and motorway fences turned into showjumps, Victoria Spicer investigates 15 things that you might not know about the most famous course in British showjumping...

Read more

Five minutes with Phillip Miller

Her latest victim in the 'Five Minutes With Series…', Daisy sits down with natural born comedian and Hickstead Derby superstar, 2013 winner Phillip Miller…

Read more

Five minutes with Bob Ellis

Daisy Bunn is back in the interviewer's chair this week with Hickstead's very own Bob The Buider, world renowned, Olympic course builder Bob Ellis...

Read more

10 iconic Derby moments

Last seen disappearing into our dusky archives, Hickstead Press Officer and journalist Victoria Spicer has put together a review of 10 of our most iconic Derby moments over the years, specially for our HDC members. 

Read more

Five Minutes with Steve Wilde

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... interview series, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn sits down with Hickstead's 'golden tonsils', commentator and Director of Ceremonies Steve Wilde...

Read more

Five minutes with Daisy Bunn

As part of a new series, exclusively for our HDC members, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn is going to catch key members of the Hickstead team for mini 5 minute interviews, to give our members a unique, behind-the-scenes take on everything Hickstead. Who better to start with than Daisy herself!

Read more

The best of the best

Equestrian journalist Charlotte Ricca-Smith asks Hickstead Derby winners to name the performance - apart from their own! - that impressed them most. 

Read more

A Hickstead first

In 2013, Paul Beecher became the first person to produce a clear round having been drawn first to go in the Hickstead Derby, then go on to win the class. Victoria Spicer spoke to him about his achievement.

Read more

A National treasure

Harvey Smith is the only man to have won both the Hickstead Derby and trained a Grand National winner. Victoria Spicer reflects on his remarkable achievement.

Read more

Olympic heroes

Did you know that three out of the four showjumping gold medallists from London 2012 are past winners of the Hickstead Derby? Victoria Spicer catches up with them to find out what those wins meant.

Read more



THE ALL ENGLAND JUMPING COURSE HICKSTEAD HASSOCKS WEST SUSSEX BN6 9NS Tel: +44 1273 834315 Fax: +44 1273 834452 View our Privacy Policy.

Our website uses cookies

Find out more about how these are used in our privacy policy.