Hughes adopting low profile as he sets sights on success at Hickstead

Doncaster showjumper James Hughes
Doncaster showjumper James Hughes
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DONCASTER’S James Hughes aims to let his jumping do the talking at this week’s eagerly-awaited Hickstead Derby meeting.

This time last year, rising star Hughes spoke at length about his hopes and aspirations for Hickstead 2013 which failed to go according to plan with Panacee and Peiter VI.

Hughes is now back for more with recent Wetherby Skip Services Bramham Grand Prix winner Peiter though the modest rider is refusing to make any predictions in a bid to experience better luck than last year.

Hughes told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m not superstitious or anything, but I said quite a lot last year about how I hoped to do and I did nothing. I was rubbish.

“Let’s just see how it goes this year but I’m hoping for the best and Peiter has been going well. He won the Grand Prix at Bramham and then he also went well in Cheshire. He’s in good form but let’s see how we go.

“I’ll also be taking another horse called UB One and we’ll see how he gets on in the other classes.”

Assessing the English opposition, Hughes added: “I’m not sure who will be there as there’s quite a lot on, including another show in Monaco and some of the Whitakers might be going there instead. But I imagine John Whitaker will be there and I know William is going as well.”

Action at Hickstead begins today with the showpiece Equestrian.Com Derby taking place at 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon.

Qualification must first be secured in Friday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trial at 11.30am with the top 35 qualifying for Sunday’s Derby.

Hughes also has next month’s Great Yorkshire Show on his agenda with the Harrogate event beginning a week on Tuesday.

Hughes could be joined by Barnsley’s Stephen Whitaker, who bagged a brilliant double at the recent CSI three-star Bolesworth International.

Whitaker, 57, took first place in the NAF world-ranking 1.45m on board his own nine-year-old bay stallion Avant Abazu’s.

He edged out brother John on Woulon L and nephew Robert on USA Today.

The home-bred nine-year-old Avant Abazu’s is by Locarno, Ellen Whitaker’s 2007 European team bronze medallist, and out of Great Love, a young rider contender for Ellen and her brothers Joe and Donald. Steven Whitaker then doubled up in the 1.40m Quigley Horseboxes Speed on his seasoned winner Avant Royal Rose, a 16-year-old chestnut stallion owned by Dawn Makin and Steven Whitaker.

Another Yorkshire showjumping star with plenty to celebrate is Northallerton’s Alex Gill, who helped Team Fairfax win the Pony Nations Cup in Hagen for a third consecutive year.

The British team relegated the German home team into second place, whilst the French riders finished in third.

Team anchor rider Gill, 16, was on board Lynn Barker’s 10-year-old dark bay gelding Ammanvalley Santino knowing that he needed a clear in both rounds.

Gill made sure that neither he nor Ammanvalley Santino put a foot wrong, giving Great Britain another fantastic double clear and the win overall. Gill competed alongside Hampshire’s Harry Charles, 14, Newcastle-upon-Tyne starlet Charlotte Ash, 15, and 15-year-old Essex protege Jared Lunn.

In dressage, Sheffield’s Catherine Hobson has qualified for the Nettex Trailblazers Championships at Stoneleigh Park with her ex-racehorse Ringwood. Hobson, 40, has qualified her 16-year-old for the Retraining of Racehorses Dressage final at prelim and novice level.

Tomorrow’s Hopetoun International in West Lothian includes Northallerton eventer Nicola Wilson.

Yorkshire eventing comes from Aske at the weekend.