Equestrianism: Veteran in fine fettle

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Nelson Pessoa will be the oldest rider in the British Jumping Derby at Hickstead on Sunday, but the 61-year-old Brazilian should certainly not be disregarded on that score. He won this annual classic last year, just nine months after suffering a heart attack, and he says that he is fitter and more confident than he was then.

Pessoa will again be riding Loro Piana Vivaldi, who has nowreached the venerable age of 20 and also belongs in the veteran bracket.

As usual, there will be a strong Irish contingent for the meeting, which begins this morning. It will include Capt John Ledingham, who is aiming for his third Derby victory at Hickstead and his fourth overall.

This week's meeting was under threat of cancellation until Paul Schockemohle, three times a winner of the Hickstead Derby for Germany, lent his support. The main class now carries a first prize of pounds 24,000, compared with the pounds 40,000 which Pessoa collected last year when Silk Cut were the sponsors.