Driffield News

Sally sets new course record as Paddy powers to Kiplingcotes Derby victory

The luck of Irish rubbed off on Lockington jockey Sally Hill on St Patrick’s Day after her horse Paddy powered home to win the Kiplingcotes Derby in what is thought to be a record time.

Remarkably, it was the second occasion Sally, 42, had won the race on St Patrick’s Day, having previously finished first past the winning post in 2011.

And, in another nod to the Emerald Isle, she was then known as Sally Ireland, before getting married in the intervening 11 years.

It was great to cross the finish line, knowing that no-one else was breathing down my neck. I could enjoy the moment

sally hill

Whilst most eyes in the horse racing world were focused on Cheltenham last week, it was a significant moment for the Kiplingcotes Derby, reputedly the oldest horse race in England, as it made its return after two COVID-hit years that had seen the linear course from Etton to Londesborough Wold walked by two horses and their jockeys.

Hundreds of spectators turned out for the race, which is always held on the third Thursday in March, whilst 19 horses were declared before the 11am cut-off.

Sally and Paddy set off as one of the favourites for the £50 purse and it was clear to see why as the pair romped home – and to say they won by the race by a mile would not be a stretch of the imagination.

Kiplingcotes Derby 2022

Despite fears that rain the previous day would make course conditions difficult for Paddy, Sally told the Wolds Weekly that he had no such issues.

She was delighted to be able to savour the moment as she eased past the winning post.

“The race went a lot better than I thought it would,” said Sally.

“He (Paddy) went everywhere I wanted him to go.

“He often has issues with running on verges and I had a worrying feeling he would end up halfway across the main road.

“But he was grand and I couldn’t believe it when I looked around and there was no-one anywhere near me.

Kiplingcotes Derby 2022

“I was expecting there to be a lot more competition around and was trying to save his legs for the finish.

“It’s the first time I’ve taken part in the race with Paddy, who I have had since he was six-years-old.

“The course didn’t ride too bad. I expected yesterday’s rain to cause some issues but the trustees had managed to level out some of the worst-affected areas.

“Paddy took well to it, considering he would prefer it to be like a road and nice and firm.

“It was great to cross the finish line, knowing that no-one else was breathing down my neck. I could enjoy the moment.”

One of the Kiplingcotes Derby’s many quirks is that, depending on the number of entries, the second-placed jockey often receives more prize money than the winner.

And that was the case this year, with first-time entrant Tom Cowlam, from Etton, scooping £76, after he and Jasper finished behind Sally and Paddy.

It was a result that surpassed all Tom’s expectations.

“We were just aiming to complete the course, so it went a lot better than expected,” said the Kiplingcotes Derby debutant.

“The only bits of the course I was worried about were Enthorpe Crossing and the boggy area close to the finish.

“But the horse did very well to really prove himself.

“I’ve only had him for three months and I am still getting to know him.

“I’d like to have another go next time, depending on whether I’ve got the right horse or not.”

The trustees of the Kiplingcotes Derby, including Philip Guest and Guy Stephenson, have worked hard to keep the race going, none more so than over the last two COVID-affected years.

With glorious weather conditions, which no doubt played a part in the number of spectators who lined the course, Philip said race organisers ‘couldn’t have asked for a better day’.

“We’re delighted to be back after two years,” he said. “Last year was a no-go and the year before, it was touch and go, and we decided that it wasn’t the best idea to have everyone gathering together in light of the circumstances.

“It’s a perfect day. The course is a bit boggy in places, particularly down in the hollows.

“However, as everyone who comes here knows, this isn’t a proper racecourse and derives from the origin of point-to-point racing when gentlemen would gather together at this time of year to race from one steeple to another.

“This is one of the few, if not the only, remaining race that runs in this way.

“Previously, we’ve kept the race going during the foot and mouth crisis and during the winter of 1947 when the snow was very deep.

“In 2020 and 2021, two horses walked the course in front of the trustees as, under the rules, a horse must go down the course to keep the race alive.

“John Thirsk and Stephen Crawford, who are both riding today, are great supporters and helped us with that.

“Entries look good, not a record, but very healthy. It’s also good to see lots of spectators and it feels as though everyone wants to be out and about again. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

Mr Stephenson, who retired as race steward in 2019, was delighted to see the return of spectators to the Derby.

Kiplingcotes Derby 2022

“It’s great to have the race back today,” he said. “It’s marvellous to have these people back again and so many runners.

“The weather’s not too bad either, although Wednesday was a pig of a day and has caused damage to the course.

“We always just hope that all horses and jockeys get back safely.

“It’s been a difficult two years, but we’ve managed to run the race to keep the job going.

“I’ve been coming to the race for over 80 years and I’ve seen it all. I was steward for around 40 years before my daughter took over.

Kiplingcotes Derby 2022

“It’s important that we try and keep the race coming and the turnout shows the high level of interest.”

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