Hickstead glory for Saywell and Peiter VI

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Retford showjumper Louise Saywell made a strong start to the prestigious Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting, winning a prestigious showjumping class.

Saywell secured the victory in Hickstead’s famous international arena aboard James Hughes’ 14-year-old stallion Peiter VI.

The pair won the Stoner Jewellers Vase by just under two seconds.

The track proved testing with only 10 combinations from 49 starters jumping clear inside the time.

Saywell’s performance was enough to claim the top spot, despite having a further 20 competitors to follow.

She said: “I wasn’t nervous watching. With him, he does win a lot because he’s naturally fast but I did think the time was beatable – I didn’t go all out.

“He wins a class everywhere he goes. He’s dead straight and easy, he goes into the ring and gives 110 per cent every time.

“He made the turns and he’s just naturally fast – if I get it right with him he’ll win.”

Saywell – who turns 27 on Saturday – enjoyed her first big win at Hickstead since she was on ponies 14 year ago.

She said: “The last time I had a big win here it was on 12.2hhs! I’ve never ridden a four or five star here.”

The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting is home to one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious showjumping competitions - the renowned Hickstead Derby, now in its 57th year.

The event features a number of international showjumping classes, national classes for amateurs and young horses, as well as elite showing championships.

In the region of 45,000 spectators flock to the Sussex showground for the Derby meeting each year with around 15,000 of those arriving on Al Shira’aa Derby day.