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WHAT IS IT ABOUT A SPEED CLASS THAT SETS EVERYONE’S PULSE RACING?

FRESH OFF THE BACK OF THE PRESTIGIOUS AL SHIRA’AA HICKSTEAD DERBY, WE FOUND OURSELVES WONDERING EXACTLY WHAT IT IS THAT ABOUT A SPEED CLASS THAT MAKES FOR MORE EXCITING VIEWING.
Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby

          It’s no surprise that the British Speed Derby hosted by Hickstead Showground got everyone’s blood at JCC’s pumping. We all watched on as the best in the field raced around the well-known course in a bid to claim victory, but what is it about these classes that is more exciting than others?

          Perhaps it’s the emotion. Winner Matthew Sampson made no secret of the fact that he was overwhelmed by the victory saying that ‘[the class] is one that everyone wants to win’. Matthew burst into to tears at the exact second fellow competitor, and notorious speed-demon, Harriet Nuttall rolled the last pole on the course handing Matthew his first major International win at Hickstead. As 11th to go in a class of 30 Matthew had a long and tense wait as he overlooked the arena watching rider after rider fail to beat the bar set by him with his lightning 92.73 second ride.

          Maybe it’s the courage? Going into a speed class is not for the faint hearted, unlike many international classes you are against the clock for a full round. No jumping a clear followed by a shortened round against the clock – all is to play for from the first fence. Watching the jockeys ride from their heart as they race around a course at a speed Usain Bolt would be proud of, is enough to turn anyone’s legs to jelly.

          You can’t keep your eyes off the clock. We’re all used to holding our breath as we pray for the poles to stay up – but add a ticking timer to the pressure and you have yourself a stomach turning, nail biter of a sport. You can see the clock, you know the rider can feel the ticking resounding through every stride their horse takes and you feel an intensity that will only allow you to draw breath once the count is over as the horse and rider combination fly over the last and race for the finish.

          The rules are simple. To win, you need to be fast, put your foot to the floor or get out the game. Everyone and anyone can get excited, whether you are a show jumping fanatic or a newcomer to the sport, you’re standing and cheering with anticipation before you even realise you’re out of your seat. Put quite simply, everyone can feel the need for speed.

          We wonder if we’ll see Hickstead podium’s Matthew Sampson, Harriet Nuttall and Guys Williams take on the Jumpingclash Challenge? Those are some head to heads that will be sure to get the audience on their feet…