Kelly O’Connor wins the SA Derby!

Caroline Malan: The PR Machine

Equestrian excellence was the order of the day at the SA Derby 2018, showing that the sport of show jumping continues to thrive.

The 52nd edition of The SA Derby sponsored by Cell C through their new entertainment offering, black proved to be a winner amongst the capacity crowd at Kyalami Equestrian Park.

The five day SA Derby culminated on Sunday 30 September 2018 in the Bob Charter Arena in Kyalami with South Africa’s top 20 show-jumpers tackling the toughest track on the country’s circuit. First in the ring and lowest qualifier for the 1.50m Derby final was 25 year-old Liam Stevens on Nissan Wanda who set an incredibly high standard having only one pole down and thus leaving the arena with four penalties.

Many riders came and went, with some just not having Lady Luck on their side: perhaps 2019 will be their year. But the crowds cheered for every horse and rider combination and it wasn’t long until Liam Stevens had company on just four penalties in the form of Alzu Oregon and Anne-Marie Esslinger, as well as Mark White Nissan’s Capital Hitoshi with the formidable Nicole Horwood.

2017 SA Derby champion Nicola Sime-Riley on Sunny Park Stables El Paso was as poetic to watch this year as she was last giving us the first clear of the afternoon! Unfortunately for her, her celebrations were short lived with the only other clear coming immediately thereafter with Kelly O’Connor and Hera van de Bien. 2018 SA Derby Victor Ludorum and highest qualifier Ronnie Lawrence on Avis Gillian Van Oshof had a surprising two poles down, leaving him with eight penalities overall.

So it was left to Sime-Riley and O’Connor to battle out the jump-off, with Benoni resident Nicola the first to go. She left the shorted track standing in a speedy 44 seconds, leaving it all up to O’Connor to claim the title. She did just that, winning it in 41 seconds – making her the winner of the 2018 SA Derby.

Kelly clears the planks at the bottom of the bank

“I just cannot stop smiling,” said Kelly. “My horse has strong likes and strong dislikes: but today she gave me her absolute all after what was a good show for the both of us.”

Kelly celebrates

As the horses cooled down, the after party warmed up with A-list South African artists such as Rubber Duc, Goodluck, Georgetown, Ultramel and Tomorrow’s Will partying well into the night!

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