Rider profile: Nicole Horwood

Tell us about your 4 wins – all of them on Don Cumarco!
It was always my childhood dream to win the Derby, there is something about the Derby that is very special. The first time I won was very surreal. It was Capital Don Cumarco’s first Derby as well as mine. I was so nervous and so overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to expect and was hoping to just get through the finish safely. Every subsequent win has been special – he loves the Derby fences and seems to thrive on all the crowds and atmosphere.

How is he performing this year?
He is having a really good year so far and is currently ranked no 1.

What is the most important thing you need to keep in mind / work on when riding him?
He is so experienced and knows his job so well that it really is just a matter of keeping him fit. He has such a great work ethic and really looks forward to his workouts. He is very playful and loves his jumping. He doesn’t jump much at home, only just before a big show.

How are you feeling ahead of this year’s Derby?
I love the Derby it was my first big win with Capital Don Cumarco so it has a special place in my heart.
It’s a great show because of the huge support we receive from the public and the atmosphere is electric so I’m always excited to compete.

What are you going to work on between now & Derby?
Focus on fitness training with Don Cumarco. He has done it so many times he literally just needs one Derby practice before the show.

What horses do you aim to have in Derby? 
Mark White Nissan Capital Don Cumarco 1m50
Mark White Nissan Capital Hitoshi 1m50
Mark White Nissan Capital Look At Me 1m40
Mark White Nissan Capital Kronos 1m35
Mark White Nissan Capital Levubu 1m30

What makes Derby such a great show for you?
The vibe , the atmosphere and the title.

Do your family come to watch – does that add pressure for you?
Yes they do! It’s the one show I manage to get them all to come watch and support. It means a lot to me to have them there. I think they’re my good luck charm. It doesn’t add pressure in fact I think it’s the opposite because no matter what the outcome is they are always proud of me.

Do you hear the crowd when you ride or block them out?
I don’t hear a thing. I am so focused once the bell rings its like I go into another zone and everything goes silent.

Are you as nervous now when riding the Derby as you were 5 years ago?
I would be lying if I said I didn’t get nervous. While I don’t get nervous to jump the fences I get nervous of the fact that Derby can be so unpredictable. You really need lady luck on your side on the day. The fences are not your usual run of the mill show jumping fences so the horses can also be so unpredictable. Don Cumarco has won many times so I know he is very capable but both you and your horse need to be on form on the day and peak at the right time so anxiety does tend creep in……