The Cornish rider Sammie Jo Coffin made a 550-mile round trip one to savour after the performance of her career yesterday.
Coffin won the Hickstead Derby Trophy on Willem De Lux, beating an international field that included the world No 3 Nick Skelton and his probable London 2012 ride Big Star.
The 25-year-old, based in St Austell, had a six-hour journey to make her debut. Coffin won a high-class competition climaxed by a thrilling jump-off.
Skelton set the standard, clocking 47.54sec after seven combinations among a 38-strong entry made the jump-off.
But Coffin then went over four seconds quicker than Skelton, ultimately taking top spot from Ireland's Keith Doyle (Walk Tall II), with James Hughes (Peiter VI) third and Skelton fourth.
"I didn't think I would catch Nick but my horse is pretty quick, and to end up beating someone like him is an amazing feeling," said Coffin.
"I just went for it. This is my first international show, but the horse seems to be loving it.
"I knew there were a lot of good horses to follow me in the jump-off, yet he is so quick across the ground. I knew he would be hard to beat if we went well."
Coffin has had Willem De Lux for the last five years and she has developed him herself, including winning the 2011 Horse of the Year Show eight-year-old class.
"He has come on brilliantly, and he has done me proud today," she added. "I have just stepped him up to international level, but he is getting better and better. The horse's brain is just brilliant, he is so careful and he's such a tryer.
"It is hard based in Cornwall because we don't have too many shows. But it is amazing to be at Hickstead. Just to go into that international arena was fanastic – it just has a special feel about it.
"I just expected to have a nice jump-around, really, but it has worked out perfectly. I would love to come back."
Coffin, who won £1,700, was almost two seconds quicker than Doyle in the jump-off, although the Sussex rider Louise Pavitt again displayed her quality partnership with Don VHP Z. They won the Royal Windsor Grand Prix last month and their time of 42.59sec yesterday was fast enough for first, but one fence down relegated them to fifth.
Time was an issue for a number of riders as Will Funnell (Billy Angelo), William Whitaker (Glenavadra Brilliant), Harriet Nuttall (A Touch Imperious) and David O'Brien (Annestown) all went clear in round one, but each had time faults.Reuse content