Equestrian, News, Personality Profiles


September 13, 2019, Author: Contributor

As we count down to the SA Derby 2019, we’ve been catching up with some of the competitors to find out their best, worst and most looked forward to part of the show. First up is last year’s SA Derby winner, Kelly o’Connor:

What makes the SA Derby so amazing for you?

I love the natural obstacles we face at Derby as well as the incredible festive atmosphere it has.

Your thoughts on this years Derby?

I’m looking forward to derby this year. The great thing is that you never have the same experience over, there’s always new exciting sponsors and entertainment.

How has it changed & what does that mean for:


I think Derby is always a highlight on every equestrian enthusiasts calendar and such a great day out for friends and family, so the spectators and supporters never disappoint.


Every year there are new gladiators entering the arena trying their luck against the past legends.

The sport:

This year we have a group of incredible sponsors coming together, families all passionate about horses and what a beautiful thing it is to see!

What horses will you be jumping in the show and in what grades?

I will be competing Hera van de Bien at Derby. We are aiming to compete in the 1:50m classes.

Which horse are you most excited to compete on for this show & why?

I’m very excited to compete Hera again this year, it will be her second time competing and it will be extremely special as we have a title to defend. Hera and I have an understanding – I give her carrots, point her at the jumps and she does the rest.

Can you tell us about your best ever SA Derby round:

I’m fortunate to say I’ve had two fantastic experiences at derby. The first was in 2007 On Doc Holiday where we tied 3rd. It was the first time either of us had gone around derby so being able to finish and place was incredible.

In 2018 I competed in derby for the second time on Hera van de Bien (this was her first time) and my biggest dream came true being able to say we won. The best feeling was galloping through the finish line knowing we had gone fast enough to win the title.

Who are your horse & rider combo favourites for this year and why?

Im backing my friend Chatan Hendricks with his new partnership on Caspar.

What are some of the techniques that you use to calm 1) yourself and 2) your horse down before entering the main derby class?

When I’m nervous I exhale deeply to try centre myself and stay focused. I believe you need a bit of nerves as this helps your reactions to respond quickly when you need to make split second decisions.

To try keep my horse calm I’ll either walk and pat them or bring them into a steady trot to keep their attention on me rather than what’s happening around them.

Who do you ride in the parade?

I take Hera into the parade usually because any of my other horses would buck me off.


Who is your favourite horse on the SA circuit at the moment and why?

Illiano the gorgeous Toulon stallion Zahn Bosman competes. He has everything !


What is your biggest challenge whilst jumping the SA Derby championship?

My biggest challenge is the wall.


Content Credit: Caroline Malan (The PR Machine)

Photo Credit: Denford Studios