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Hooke wins 2nd derby

By Mark Etheridge

Sitting pretty on her horse A New Era, Port Elizabeth’s Jade Hooke recently won the Avis derby event in Johannesburg, the highlight of the South African equestrian calendar.

It’s Hooke’s second derby win, not bad going for the young 21-year-old in one of the toughest and most energy-sapping events in the country.

What makes her achievement all the more notable is that this is already her second derby win, her and A New Era having also won it two years ago when she was just 19. “When I won two years ago I was the youngest to do so and I think I was also the first rider who won it at her first attempt at a derby,” Hooke told Road to London 2012.

It was also an extremely emotional win for Hooke. “It was a very special win for me as I did it for my mom who passed away in March earlier this year. I would have been very disappointed in myself if I didn’t win it for her this yearÔǪ”

“The derby track is so amazing. The crowd and the hype makes it so excitingÔǪ there really is no other competition in South Africa like the derby and even though its nerve racking it’s also fun and different to going to jump at a World Cup. Derby is all about focusing and keeping it together. It’s no no joke as I’m sure everyone will tell you. It’s really tough and your have to come prepared and on top form if you want to do well.”

The derby is definitely not only about the rider, the horse also plays an absolutely integral part in the success story and Hooke is quick to give credit where it’s due. “A New Era is a 13-year-old Namibian warm blood. He’s got his own mind and he’s very sensitive. He doesn’t like being bullied or bossed around he does more for me out of loveÔǪ we really have such a great bond and understand each other. He’s definitely got BMT and he knows when he needs to perform.”

Having started riding at the age of six, in St Francis Bay, she really started taking the sport seriously at around 11 years of age and is now based at the successful Golden Circle equestrian estate livery and riding school in Lorraine.┬á She’s currently coached by Johannesburg equestrian expert Dominey Alexander.

Believe it or not she also has a another sporting life, doing triathlons on the side and representing South Africa in the recent world championships in Beijing, China where she finished 12th in the 20-24 age group category. “I’m very sporty and an outdoors person ÔÇô I couldn’t go a day without training.”

So what’s next for this pocket rocket of energy.┬á “Next up for me is to go and jump in the World Cup final next year in Holland. It’s a really expensive trip and we’re hoping to get a sponsor on board to help me get to this amazing top class competition. I’ve already qualified ÔÇô there were six legs here in SA they take the top four scores from the six to get the overall South African winner. We may still have to do some qualifying in Europe too but I’m not quite sure on that yet. Also if I have to borrow a horse over there I have to qualify the horse too.”