12 moments we loved at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

The Al Shira’aa Derby drew our June fixture to a close, and what a way to round off four fabulous sunny days of showjumping and showing. We take a look back at some of the best moments of this year’s show.

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1. William joins four of the best

William Funnell is now one of an illustrious group of four-time winners of the Hickstead Derby, joining Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken. William’s winning ride Billy Buckingham is 18.1hh and looks every inch a Derby giant – could this talented chestnut take William to a record fifth win? We can’t wait to find out!

2. On the way to the top

Holly Smith might have been disappointed to miss out on a first Derby title, but she should take heart – having finished third last year, and second this year, there’s only one way for her to go next year! Several other horses have climbed the placings one place at a time before finally winning, including Skip Two Ramiro (Guy Williams, 2010), Adventure De Kannan (Trevor Breen, 2014) and Glenavadra Brilliant, the 2016 champion under William Whitaker. Meanwhile, poor Harriet Nuttall missed out again – if anyone deserves a win in the Al Shira’aa Derby, it’s her! Her record in this class with the brilliant A Touch Imperious is incredibly consistent, with two third placings and three seconds in the past five attempts. As Nigel Coupe said in H&H this week, it’s only a matter of time before they win, and we think he’s right.

3. Great debut

Talking of William Whitaker, who was off on Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup duties in Rotterdam, his former winner Glenavadra Brilliant produced a super round in the Al Shira’aa Derby with younger brother Jim Whitaker. With just one down and a time fault, it was an impressive debut for Jim.

4. Whitakers everywhere

We had a whole flurry of Whitakers in action last week, with seven entered in the international classes and even more competing in the National classes (what do you call a collection of Whitakers? A stable of Whitakers? A collecting ring of Whitakers? Answers on a postcard please folks). The next generation of Whitakers are going to be a formidable force, with Donald winning the British Five Year Old Championship on Thursday (Nero Van De Kwade Heyde) and Joe, Donald and George filling the top three spaces in the British Six Year Old Championship. Nice work!

5. Matt's double

He saved the best for last in the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby, when last to go Matthew Sampson galloped to victory for the second year in a row. He said he was aiming to win again, and he duly did. We love it when a plan comes together. 

6. Shane hits top form

It was brilliant to see Ireland’s Shane Breen hit top form during this year’s show, with three wins in the International Arena, including the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, and a third placing in the Al Shira’aa Derby.  One to watch for in the 2019 Derby, we think. 

7. Hello, Scott

It’s always nice to see local boy (and Olympic gold medallist) Scott Brash here at Hickstead, and he picked up his first international win on the Thursday in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard. Did you know that every one of his London 2012 team mates has won the Hickstead Derby? No pressure, Scott… 

8. Doing the double

Well done to scurry driver Gareth Roberts, who won the Osborne Refrigerators Double Harness Scurry on Saturday and won the Celebrity Scurry on the Sunday. His groom for the celebrity competition was Tom O’Brien, who works as UK Supervisor for our title sponsors Al Shira’aa – he has evented, competes in dressage, and now Tom can add ‘scurry champion’ to his equestrian CV. 

9. Yummy mummies

Yazmin Pinchen won the Royal International Accumulator when she was four months pregnant, so it was fitting that she should win the Bunn Leisure Derby Two Phase with her little boy Harry there to watch. Second to her in the class was Joanne Whitaker (another Whitaker!) who just gave birth five weeks earlier. Good going, ladies!

10. Show stars

Among the champions in our showing classes were the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Show Series Championship winner, Hannah Horton and What Of It. They saw off opposition from some very familiar names, including Annacotty (a Paddy Power Gold Cup winner) and Grandeur, who clocked up £600,000 of prize money on the Flat.

11. Finally champion

In the Alltech Supreme Hunter Championship, amateur rider Henrietta Spencer and Lord John finally took the title. They’ve won their class for three years running and stood reserve each time, but this year went one better. Great to see an amateur beat the professionals at their own game! 

12. Stars of the future

We love the NSEA Mini Derby Challenge – tiny jockeys + tiny ponies = too much cuteness! We think there could well be some future stars among them… The competitors included Misha Lennon, Evie Whitaker, Mia Breen, Fynn and Bodhi Macken and Hector Condon.

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