[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he flamboyant and life-loving Anthony Kay says that whilst there’s nothing quite like Derby, his preparations going into the show have been far from ideal.
“My horse Sherman had an injury at the end of last year resulting in this year being a bit slow: I’ve only jumped him in two 1.40m show. Derby will be our first big show back! But I’m super excited for the show; it’s a fantastic thing to be a part of. There are plenty of things I don’t do right, but luckily I am quite relaxed when it comes to nerves: I don’t really get too nervous – what will be, will be!”
“My advice for riders jumping the derby for the first time is just to enjoy it! It was the most exciting day of my life and I absolutely loved it from start to finish! Make sure you are in it from the very beginning in terms of the warm up classes otherwise it’s hard to qualify. And on the day just take your time with each element as every single one is a test!”
With a young horse in the 1.30’s, Anthony says that is just Sherman in the big classes for this year. “He has a lovely personality: he’s super brave and understands me so well. He’s a little bit sensitive and can be slightly worried with crowds, but once I reassure him, he’s 100%. I have to ride him a little bit like it’s ‘his idea!’ He’s quite spooky and the dyke is quite a test because it’s right alongside the crowds in the stands. He’s very brave and I have to keep him quite relaxed so that he can concentrate on clearing the fences. The scariest fence for me was the bank as it’s a huge drop and Sherman is already a long way from the ground standing at 17.2hh! But surprisingly he was so brave and went down from the very first time we practiced it… he loves derby stuff!”
Recapping on last year’s performance, Anthony says he has improved his fitness. “In 2016 we had three fences down. We knocked the panel at the bottom of the bank because I didn’t keep him straight and we went a bit to the right. I also hit the brown panel after the style which I think was because I was tired by that stage. We took the entry into the double but by that stage I was just relieved that I was near the end! I think we need to train the panels and entry into the double better. I could also be fitter. I have started to clean up my diet a bit and I’ve always gone to gym – but have now introduced myself to running in order to improve my cardio fitness.”
Ones to watch
“My favourite to clinch the title would be Nicole Horwood on Mark White Nissan Capital Don Cumarco having already taken the title 4 times before. The thing I love about Derby is that it’s like no other event: The jumps are big and challenging and the crowds amazing: it feels like everyone is behind you on those big jumps and they certainly feel easier with the crowds help! I already have an incredible support system with Ebb and Flow Stables as well as Equipage behind me so all that’s left for me to do is enjoy the amazing feeling of jumping that course!”
Text: Caroline Malan of the PR Machine