What to watch at this year's Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

Find out what you can look forward to at our June fixture

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The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (21-24 June) is one of the most popular events in the equestrian calendar, with top class showjumping featuring alongside showing, carriage driving and more.

The CSI4* show culminates in the famous Al Shira’aa Derby on the Sunday afternoon. The Derby course is fearsomely tricky, and the fences have barely changed since the class was first held in 1961. Iconic obstacles such as the Derby Bank, the Devil’s Dyke and the double of water ditches are as difficult to jump now as they have always been, and clear rounds remain a rarity.

Last year’s renewal saw two horses jump clear in the first round, with Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill taking the title ahead of Harriet Nuttall (A Touch Imperious) after a nail-biting jump-off.

Riders must qualify for the Al Shira’aa Derby in Friday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, a class that often gives a good indication of a horse’s chances in Sunday afternoon’s showcase event. Saturday is all about speed, with the British Speed Derby forming the focus of the day. This class is another that is held over the same course year after year, meaning riders can try to break the course record as well as defeating their rivals. Last year’s winning horse was Topflight True Carlo, giving Matthew Sampson his first ever Speed Derby title.

There will be a total of eight rings of equestrian competition during the show, ranging from cross-poles in the NSEA Hickstead Mini Challenge going up to international World Ranking showjumping classes, as well as showing classes for  cobs, riding horses, small hunters, mountain and moorlands, ridden hunters and coloured horses. Saturday evening gives spectators the chance to see the sport’s biggest stars try a new equestrian discipline in the Celebrity Derby Challenge.

Hickstead provides a perfect family day out, with something on offer for everyone. There are more than 150 stands in the Charles Owen Shopping Village, selling tack, clothing, footwear, homeware and more. This year, there is free general admission on the Thursday of the show, to encourage people to come along to experience the fabulous shopping for themselves. A new Family Zone will feature a funfair (with half price rides on Thursday and Friday) alongside entertainment from local company Tomfoolery.

Visitors can choose from a wide range of bars and eateries, or they can opt to make their visit truly special by selecting one of Hickstead’s hospitality options. Whether choosing fine dining overlooking the International Arena, or findng the perfect spot to set up a picnic, there is no better place than Hickstead to enjoy a summer day with the accompaniment of top class equestrian sport.

Tickets are on sale now.

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