Biddick bidding for record fourth win after viral mishap

Harriet Biddick missed out on another Speed Derby title when her horse's bridle came off mid-round

SPEEDDERBY HARRIETBIDDICK SILVERLIFT

Twelve months ago, Somerset showjumper Harriet Biddick was poised to set a new record in the British Speed Derby at Hickstead.

Riding her seasoned campaigner Silver Lift, Harriet was nearing the end of the lengthy course and looking like she was about to retain her title from 2022. If she could win the class again, it would make her the first lady rider to win it four times, plus Silver Lift would become the only horse ever to win four times.

But in a dramatic twist, Silver Lift’s bridle slipped off his head as he landed after the Irish Bank. Amazingly, they jumped through the tricky treble of Hickstead planks despite having no bridle, and for a second it looked like Silver Lift might continue on to jump the final spread and complete the course. But unfortunately, the horse cantered past the last fence and Harriet lifted her hands in a shrug of defeat. Instead, it was debutant Ella Dalton and her mare Quality Rubies N Diamonds who took the win.   

But while Harriet didn’t manage to secure a record victory, the video of her incident very quickly went viral, with more than 50 million views across social media. A photograph of the pair taken by Tilly Berendt was later chosen as the British Equestrian Media Association’s Moment of the Year.

As well as dealing with the disappointment of missing out on a record win, Harriet did have a scary minute when a bridleless Silver Lift carried on cantering round the open space of the International Arena. Harriet was in the early stages of pregnancy with her second child, and wanted to avoid getting injured in a fall. Fortunately, her horse soon came to a stop at the entrance to the arena.

“It was quite a daunting moment in my head, as I knew I couldn't jump off him,” says Harriet. “It wasn’t ideal but I just let him figure it out and pretended nothing had gone wrong. When he started getting faster, I remember thinking, this is getting a bit silly now, but I was trying to talk to him and calm him down.”

Harriet gives full credit to her trusted equine partner, who has given her so many successes at Hickstead over the years. “I mean, it shows how honest the horse is – he's amazing to cope with what he coped with that day and to stop at the entrance afterwards. He's got a heart of gold.”

Harriet and her jockey husband Will Biddick welcomed baby Oliver in December, a younger brother for their first son Archie. At this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, both children will have the opportunity to watch their mum potentially make history in the British Speed Derby. But for Harriet, it’s more important to make amends for last year after an incident that no one could have foreseen.

“I feel like I owe it to the horse because he was going so well last year, and he deserved to win it last year. He's 19 years old now, so it's now or never, but he feels really good and I owe it to him to try again,” she says.

The British Speed Derby takes place on the Saturday afternoon of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (20-23 June). Tickets are on sale now.

Watch our video interview with Harriet here

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