Just last week, while idly flicking TV channels, I came across something which made me sit up. It was the Hickstead Derby, now in it’s 59th year. And listen to this in case you haven’t heard it by now, Kildare’s young Michael Pender, at 19 years of age, was the only one to jump two electrifying clear rounds to win this world-famous equestrian event. He was the youngest ever winner and it was his first time attempting the tricky and hazardous course.
The horse was the 12 year old Belgian Warmblood named Hearton Du Bois Halleux. To see this combination take “a great lepp” off the towering Hickstead bank, land safely and within two short strides clear the next fence was an unforgettable sight
But this young man is no newcomer to the world of Show-jumping.
He has ridden ponies from an early age and jumped Connemara ponies for Ireland in many pony International events, often showing-off the native pony’s all round athletic abilities. In Millstreet in July 2014, at the European Pony Championships, we saw him jumping Doon Laddie – the 10 yr. old John Luskin bred gelding by Silver Shadow X Doon Kate, when they were 2nd in a competitive International event. The pair were Silver Medal winners as Team Ireland in the International Team Event also.
Back to Hickstead. The Nations Cup was also won by Team Ireland and top Galway rider Michael Duffy, a key man in this team, also aged 19, was another Connemara pony veteran who had jumped internationally with both Silver Shadow and pic. Sillogue Darkie in 2010.
2019 was a great Hickstead year for Irish riders. Pony pics. Niamh’s weblog.