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 


Harriet Nuttall is slowly but surely shrugging off the notion that she’s some kind of Hickstead bridesmaid. Having finished runner-up multiple times in the Al Shira’aa Derby and the British Speed Derby, it was beginning to look like Harriet was stuck with a bad case of seconditis here at the All England Jumping Course. Then she broke the curse by winning the 2016 Speed Derby, and last year she added another major Hickstead title to her CV with victory in the BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

This year, she’ll cast off the Bridesmaid moniker for good when she officially becomes a bride – the 28-year-old rider from Somerset is due to marry amateur jockey Will Biddick in the autumn. “We’re busy wedding planning at the moment, though I’ve just been in Spain for the Sunshine Tour for six weeks so Will has been doing the organising with my parents,” says Harriet, who is marrying in the short break after her showjumping season ends in early October but before the point-to-point season kicks off for Will. “It was never going to be a summer wedding!” she jokes. “Fortunately my horses will be having a break at the end of the season, so we can have a honeymoon straight after the wedding.” Even her hen party has to fit in around Hickstead. “It will be the week after the Derby Meeting, when the horses will be resting. Everything has to fit around my showjumping.”

Harriet seems more focused and determined than ever, and a big part of that is due to Galway Bay Jed, her Queen’s Cup winner. The now 10-year-old gelding is taking her to new career highs. “I’d planned to do the Queens with Jed a few months beforehand, as I thought it would be a good class for him to gain experience. I knew he was capable of going clear, and he’d jumped well at the Royal International as an eight-year-old but he’d never done a big class here at Hickstead before.”

She had wanted to use the class to introduce Jed to Hickstead’s formidable 15ft Open Water, but in the end it wasn’t included in the course, following some heavy rain during the show. With her main jumping concern gone, Harriet and Jed went clear, joining seven others in the jump-off. Suddenly it was less about gaining experience and more about winning. “I knew Jed could be fast, as I’d won a ranking class on him on the Sunshine Tour and I knew we could beat the time if I let him go, he’s a big galloping horse and he suits a large open arena like Hickstead,” says Harriet.

Drawn last, she had to beat current leader Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker’s time of 34.10sec. “Holly was quick in places but her horse is more of A Touch Imperious type,” she says, referring to her Al Shira’aa Derby ride. “Quality Old Joker is slower in the air over the fences, whereas Jed is a lot quicker off the floor. So I thought if I kept doing the same distances as Holly but moved on a bit more round the corners, we could win.”

Harriet has twice been caught out by the final oxer in the Al Shira’aa Derby, but she wasn’t prepared to play it safe in the Queen’s Cup. “I had such a good shot to the last, I saw it from about eight strides out and I thought I’m just going to risk it, I’m last to go and I can’t come second again, it’s all or nothing. Jed loves a big stride and he’s so bold to a fence like that, especially a big oxer going downhill.” The crowd gasped as she approached the final fence, but they needn’t have worried – Jed flew the last, and landed nearly 1.5sec up on the time. “I was a bit shocked when I saw the time since it was the first time I’d gone for it in a class like that. My plan worked, for once!”

Following their success at Hickstead, Harriet was invited to be part of the British team at the Dublin Horse Show a week later. It was another step up for both Jed and for Harriet, who had never been on a five-star team before. Their Irish trip got off to a good start when they made it into the jump-off in the Sport Ireland Classic, then they put in a solid performance in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup. “In the first round we had two down and a time fault, but it was a big, technical course with two Liverpools and a long water. Then in round two we only had one down, and we finished the Grand Prix with one down too. It was a big step up for both of us, but he excelled. It shows how much of a horse he is for the future.”

She now has her sights set on further Nations Cup teams, and would love to be considered for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon. “I’m pushing myself for WEG, but I have to show form, and I’ve got to keep him consistent and injury-free. I think Jed has got it all, but we have to keep proving ourselves and doing well.”

As she enters into a new phase of her showjumping career, she’s now receiving coaching from none other than Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton. “He’s been a big help, especially when it comes to planning which shows I go to,” she says. “He kicks me into touch and sharpens me up a bit, and I need that. It’s really exciting.” Nick is helping her with both Galway Bay Jed and A Touch Imperious, and according to Harriet, he’s a fan of both horses. Certainly when it comes to jumping in the Hickstead Derby, you can’t get much better a trainer than Skelton, who famously won four times.

Harriet and A Touch Imperious have got a remarkable record in the Al Shira’aa Derby, having come third in 2014, second in 2015, 2016 and 2017, then third equal this summer when a foot in the water cost them a clear. A win in this famous class still remains one of Harriet’s biggest goals – and it’s surely a matter of time before luck ends up on their side.

Now 14, A Touch Imperious (Henry) will be concentrating more on Derbies, with Galway Bay Jed taking over as her main string. “Henry is an amazing horse, he’s a very good Derby horse and a good Grand Prix horse, but Jed has got speed with it. They have to have so much blood to do the bigger classes and Henry lacks that. He’s scopey enough for the height, but the technicality of it can sometimes catch him out, whereas the more technical it is, the better Jed jumps.”

Both horses came over from Ireland, and Harriet has produced them both from youngsters up to the top level. “Jed came from Goresbridge sales in Ireland, though he was bred in England and sold as a foal. He was a big, hairy bear, but a nice model, and Dad and I thought if he didn’t make a showjumper he could event, hunt or do workers, he was just a nice type of a horse. But it turns out he’s more than just ‘nice’, he’s got it all.” When the Nuttalls bought him, he’d been broken in and done a few months of work, but he was very green and didn’t show much style over a small fence. “Because he was so big, we didn’t do much with him until he was a late six year old. It was nice we could start him how we wanted, and it was the same with A Touch Imperious, we have been able to produce them slowly in our own way.”

They may have similar backgrounds, but Jed and Henry are very different. “Jed is the cutest horse. He’s very needy, a real softy, and he chews everything within reach. Jed knows he’s handsome and he plays on it, he gives you the puppy dog eyes. Whereas Henry is an absolute thug, he throws his weight around in the stable and is generally a bit of a brute!” In the arena, Jed is focused on the job at hand, but outside it’s a different matter. “He goes into dream world. He’s pretty laid back about life in general.”

Harriet has now had four horses who have dazzled at Hickstead. There’s Highland Cruiser and Silver Lift, with whom she has dominated in the British Speed Derby in recent years, there’s A Touch Imperious with his three Al Shira’aa Derby second placings and two third placings, and now there’s Galway Bay Jed. Having one horse be repeatedly successful here is impressive, but having four in as many years is something else. “I think it’s the Irish-bred horses, they seem to suit Hickstead because they’re brave and they go well on grass,” she says.

Her own upbringing predisposes her for success in the International Arena – as well as showjumping, she’s evented and she hunts all winter, so she’s no stranger to galloping and jumping at speed. Equestrian sport is in her blood – her grandmother was heavily involved in showjumping as a course builder, while her father Rupert rode for the Schockemöhles as a teenager before becoming an amateur jockey. He’s been instrumental to Harriet’s success, especially in helping her find her top horses. “Dad has got such a good eye for a horse and I’m lucky that he supports me as much as he does,” she says.

They’ve certainly discovered some impressive horses over the years, and Harriet has repeatedly proven that she can produce them to the top level. Now she’s found Galway Bay Jed, her horse of a lifetime, she’s determined to make the most of it, but however far her showjumping career takes her she will always love coming back to Hickstead. “Riding up the chute into the International Arena, it’s like coming home. All my summers revolve around the two Hickstead shows. I grew up watching Hickstead on TV, and I love it here, the atmosphere, the crowd, the arena with its perfect going, everything.”

She may give all the credit for her success here to her equine partners, but perhaps it is actually Harriet herself who is the Hickstead specialist, and having so many horses go well here is simply a by-product of that. Finishing in the top three in the Al Shira’aa Derby every year for five years is an incredible feat, as is finishing first or second in the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby three years running, and now winning the BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Forget the Hickstead Bridesmaid – if anything, Harriet’s new nickname should be Miss Consistent.




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. 

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Holly Smith Q&A

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

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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 

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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. 

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Top Speed

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

By Victoria Goff

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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. 

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Coming of age

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A Platinum President

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10 magical showing moments

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

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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 

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Perfect Timing

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

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Fiesta Time

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

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Worth the wait

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

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Doing it for Ella

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

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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. 

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A New Era

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

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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…

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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.

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#RoadToHickstead contenders reveal...

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

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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.

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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. 

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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! 

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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.

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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'. 

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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.  

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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. 

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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

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William Whitaker: How to win the Derby

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

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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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...

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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...

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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...

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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

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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...

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Breen’s Derby dream comes true

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

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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...

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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. 

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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.

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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...

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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…

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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...

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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. 

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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...

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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!

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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