GERMANY’S Hamburg Derby took place last weekend, giving plenty of insight into horse and rider form ahead of Great Britain’s equivalent class – the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead.
The win went to German rider Nisse Lüneburg, with Ireland’s Shane Breen finishing in the runner-up spot with the talented Can Ya Makan. Nisse and Shane produced the only clears of the competition, with the German managing to shave a second off Shane’s jump-off time to take the title.
Shane and Can Ya Makan shot into contention in last year’s Al Shira’aa Derby when winning the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial. They went on to finish third in the Derby itself, just picking up four faults at the balustrade fence. Following their superb Hamburg performance, they now look likely to be among the favourites for Hickstead’s iconic class on Sunday June 23.
Although Shane has had several top five finishes in the Al Shira’aa Derby, he is yet to lift the trophy. Shane is married to Chloe Breen, daughter of the All England Jumping Course founder Douglas Bunn, and the pair operate a huge showjumping and breeding operation at Hickstead Place – meaning Hickstead is Shane’s ‘home’ show.
If he can win the Al Shira’aa Derby, his name will be added to the trophy alongside younger brother Trevor, who had back-to-back wins in the class in 2014 and 2015.
A number of other Hickstead stars shone in Hamburg, including Matthew Sampson, who finished fourth behind former eventing world champion Sandra Auffarth. Matthew was riding Quality Old Joker, who finished second in last year’s Al Shira’aa Derby with regular rider Holly Smith. While Holly was busy on Nations Cup team duties with Hearts Destiny in St Gallen, Matthew took Quality Old Joker to Hamburg where they finished with a very credible four faults.
Close behind in sixth place was Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill. These experienced Derby campaigners won at Hickstead in 2017 and were another to pick up just four faults in Hamburg, proving they’re in good form as the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting grows closer.
Also in the prize money in Hamburg were James Whitaker and Glenavadra Brilliant, who finished ninth with eight faults. The pair were fifth in Hickstead’s equivalent class last year, and the horse was a former winner with James’ elder brother William back in 2016, so this combination are a real force to be reckoned with in this year’s Derby.
A notable absentee in Hamburg was the reigning Al Shira’aa Derby winner William Funnell, who was also in St Gallen representing Britain in the Nations Cup. William will be aiming for a consecutive win on Billy Buckingham, which would put him in the record books as the first five-time winner of the Hickstead Derby.
Tickets for the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (20-23 June) are on sale now from www.hickstead.co.uk