Team Nissan’s Barry Taylor on the Cell C Derby

Barry Taylor will be riding Nissan Counter Attack and Nissan Catwalk 22 in this year’s Derby

Having represented his country too many times to remember, South Africa’s most accomplished showjumper Barry Taylor says that he’s not afraid of any derby fence in particular. It’s this quiet confidence, coupled with over 45 years of experience that poses the Team Nissan Showjumping captain as a threat come Cell C SA Derby time. He aims to have two horses in this year’s main derby: Nissan Catwalk 22 as well as Nissan Counter Attack.

Fitness training

“My preparations for Derby started in the first week of September. It’s about fitness work as well as popping over a few small derby fences. I will start to pick up their track work to at least 3 x week as they have had a lot of jumping and I think fitness is the most important for the derby. Most the faults occur after the devils dyke when both horse and rider start to get tired. I also pick up the canter work to a full 15 minutes at 400 meters per minute. Counter needs more fitness as he has trouble with his breathing and needs to be super fit, whilst Catwalk can go round the derby twice: he’s a very natural athlete and he needs very little effort to jump the jumps. The only jump I am worried about is with Catwalk and is the plank after the bank. He jumped it clear last year but didn’t really understand it so I will work on it at home a lot. Counter is very good at the fixed obstacles so with him it is fitness, fitness and more fitness. The double of gates is a problem if he gets tired. Counter Attack is my favourite horse and an absolute trier. Catwalk is a superstar and has a very good chance in the derby. I am wary of a few jumps: the bank, dyke and water  all have their own tests. The water is at maximum width and we in SA don’t jump the water enough. I don’t think we have had a water this year where in Europe they jump it every week. So most of our riders are unprepared for it. I don’t think I am a great water jump rider so I really have to concentrate: I try to visualize it as a big triple bar and it is a bit like an aero plane taking off.”

The morning of

“In terms of myself, I always eat healthily at home, and try to do a bit more gym than usual.I generally wake up on derby day at around 7am. Then I go and light lunge my derby horses to see how they look and to loosen them a little. I will then come in and have yoghurt and cereal as I am not a great breakfast eater. Then I set off to the show. I will try and have some chicken and salad for lunch. I wouldn’t say that I get nerves: It’s a feeling to do well as I always expect to be at the top. The vibe on the day is outstanding and I thrive on the test of the course.”

With 45 years of experience on his side, Barry is a seasoned competitor

Combinations to watch

“Nicole Horwood must be the favourite, plus Nicola Sime, and a couple of young riders . I think I also have a good chance. Everyone needs a bit of luck on the day to win. Some young riders to watch include Liam Stevens whose horse Nissan Wanda has jumped the course clear before. Ronnie Healy who has been 3rd in the Hickstead Derby is a great bet. Also look out for Cayleigh Triggol who will be the youngest rider but who has been very competitive in the World Cups this year. My favourite combination to watch is Nicole Horwood on Mark White Nissan Capital Don Cumarco. For a combination of horse and rider to win the derby 4 times is an absolutely amazing feat which I doubt will ever happen again.”

Fond memories

Having won this event himself four times, Barry will enter the arena with plenty of memories and experience behind him.

“I think my first win was the most memorable as I had been 2nd six times before that so it was absolute desperation to win, which I did on Checkpoint . Avalanche won it 2 years in a row and I think he could have won it 3 years in a row but we exported him to jump in the Hickstead Derby where he was placed 8th. Sundays Eagle won the first Derby at Kyalami Equestrian Park in torrential rain which I don’t they would’ve continued in today’s times. So each win is special.

When Checkpoint won I remember it being a 6 horse jump off and I had 2 horses in it. He was a small horse but when he walked in that arena that day he grew 2 hands . I have never felt a horse puff himself up like that and jumped the only clear in the jump off.”

Text: Caroline Malan of the PR Machine

Ticket prices

Saturday 30 September: R50 – R100 (depending on seats)
Sunday 1 October (the main day):  R100 – R600 (five price ranges available: R100, R150, R200, R250 and R600).
Tickets will be available on Ticketpro from Thursday 24 August.
Discounted weekend packages available