Peter Charles and Corrada squelched their way to a second successive victory in the British Jumping Derby here yesterday, defeating Robert Smith and Mr Springfield, who had jumped a superb opening clear round over the marathon course of 16 fences. Though the field of 22 horses had looked decidedly thin on paper, these two talented riders lifted the rain-drenched contest out of threatened mediocrity and ensured the climax of a jump-off that the enthusiastic crowd so much enjoys at the end of this annual classic.
Smith, who went first, was determined that Charles would not defeat him on time. But he nevertheless left the door open for the Irishman when Mr Springfield, who had given his all in the first round, had two fences down. Charles, who never had any intention of chasing Smith's time, went for a slow clear round and achieved it on the big grey mare who appears to relish the wide open spaces of the international arena here.
Notwithstanding last year's victory, Charles had not been confident that the 13-year-old would come down the precipitous slope from the 10ft 6in Derby Bank. This time she was a bit too hurried in her descent. "My hat fell forward on my nose as she lurched down and I couldn't see a thing, but she's got a pair of eyes so I left it to her," Charles said of Corrada, who gamely jumped the rails close to the base of the bank without any aids from her rider. Charles then had to push his hat back to discover his whereabouts. On Monday he had been toasting the arrival of his third child, a daughter Sienna, so had another occasion to celebrate last night.
Duncan Inglis was the long time leader on Tougardens Joshuan before being nudged down to third place. He had probably feared he might be pushed further down until two of the fancied runners – Tim Stockdale on Fresh Direct Wiston Bridget and John Whitaker on Steps Helsinki – dropped out of contention.
Bridget, who was a doubtful starter after being stung by a bee or a hornet on Friday, was clear until sliding down the bank and crumpling on landing. Stockdale, who appeared to roll safely away when he fell, was nevertheless holding his back as though in pain as he struggled to his feet before remounting. A fall now incurs elimination, so that was the end of his effort. Whitaker eventually finished ninth.