Al Shira’aa Derby line-up revealed

The entries are in for next week’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, with several strong contenders who are more than capable of keeping reigning champion William Funnell off the top spot.

Having won the Al Shira’aa Derby 12 months ago, William is returning with Billy Buckingham in the hope of securing back-to-back wins. If he can manage it, he will set a new record as the first rider to win the Hickstead Derby five times.

An historic Hickstead Derby performance from William Funnell with Cortaflex Mondriaan     Photo: John Periam 01243 584718

Billy Buckingham has shown a real affinity for Hickstead’s most famous class, having also finished sixth on his Hickstead Derby debut, and the pair will start as likely favourites for this year’s renewal.

One of the biggest rivals to Funnell’s record aim will be Ireland’s Shane Breen, who is based at Hickstead. Having won the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial and finished third in the Al Shira’aa Derby last summer.

Shane Breen ‘s past success with Cos I Can ( Photograph Samantha Lamb)

Shane seems to have found a real Derby star in Can Ya Makan. The pair furthered their credentials by finishing in the runner up spot in last month’s Hamburg’s Derby, and are certainly ones to watch at Hickstead.

There hasn’t been a female winner of the Hickstead Derby since 2011, but two lady riders have been getting increasingly close to winning. British team regular Holly Smith started her Hickstead Derby career with a third place in 2017, before going one better last year when she finished runner-up to William Funnell after a hard-fought jump-off. Her horse Quality Old Joker produced a perfect clear last summer, and could easily do the same next week.

Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker Photo: Julian Portch

Harriet Nuttall and her experienced Derby campaigner A Touch Imperious have finished second in the class three times and were third last summer. It’s surely only a matter of time before they finally take the title.

Another lady rider with a good chance is Irish event rider Esib Power, who has had a number of top 10 placings in the Derby with Doonaveeragh O One. Esib, the sister of Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Robbie Power, returns to Hickstead after a spell of good results in the showjumping arena.

James Whitaker is bidding to become the fourth member of his famous family to lift the Boomerang Trophy, following in the footsteps of his elder brother William and uncles John and Michael. He is riding Glenavadra Brilliant, the horse who gave William his victory back in 2016 before James took over the ride.

They finished fifth in this class last year, with just one fence down and a time fault, and further proved their affinity for Hickstead when winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in July.

Two other former winners are among the likely starters for Sunday afternoon’s showcase. Nigel Coupe returns with his 2017 champion Golvers Hill, another horse who arrives at Hickstead on the back of a strong performance in Hamburg.

It’s been nine years since Guy Williams secured his only Hickstead Derby win back in 2010, but if he qualifies for this year’s class he could be one to keep an eye on.

All the riders must qualify for the Al Shira’aa Derby in Friday’s Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, which often proves to be a useful indication of Derby form.

The other showcase class of this meeting is the Science Supplements Speed Derby, in which Britain’s Matthew Sampson will be aiming to become the first rider to win the class three times in a row since David Bowen and John Ledingham in the early 1990s.

Matt Sampson winning Hickstead Speed Derby in 2017: Photo Nigel Goddard

More than 80 riders have entered the international classes at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting. It’s one of the most international fields in years, with riders from Australia, France, Germany, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the USA, as well as the usual strong contingents from Great Britain and Ireland.

The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting runs from June 20-23 June. Tickets are on sale now from

Watch Hickstead action live on TV

DON`T miss a moment of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting. Viewers will be able to watch four days of action there from June 20-23, streamed live on ClipMyHorse.TV.

The popular streaming platform will be showing all the action from the Longines International Arena from Thursday onwards, including the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, the Science Supplements Speed Derby and Sunday’s showcase event, the Al Shira’aa Derby.

Archway to the main Hickstead Photo courtesy of Hickstead

The feature classes will be shown as full-scale multi-camera productions, with commentary from Gareth Jenkins and international showjumper and experienced broadcaster James Fisher.

All classes and rounds from the Longines International Arena will be available to watch and download from ClipMyHorse.TV almost immediately, which will allow riders to purchase clips of their Hickstead performances.

The show will also be streamed live on Hickstead.TV and both platforms will be showing the live event as free to view.

Highlights of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, produced by  ClipMyHorse.TV will also be televised on Sky Sports and Horse & Country TV shortly after the event.

The Al Shira’aa Derby highlights will be shown on Sky Sports Arena HD at 6pm on Thursday June 26, with daily repeats until June30.

The highlights will be shown on Horse & Country TV on Friday July 5 at 8pm, and the channel will also show highlights of the Science Supplements Speed Derby, premiering on July 4 at 8pm.

For those who want to enjoy the action from a ringside seat, tickets for the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (20-23 June) are on sale now from

Nicole Pavitt qualifies for HOYS

Nicole Pavitt  has won the British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet HOYS Grade C Qualifier at the South of England Show

 A British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet HOYS Grade C Qualifier took place at the popular South of England Show on Saturday. Seventy-two combinations came forward to take on Neil Theobald’s track with eyes firmly set on gaining one of the three qualifying tickets on offer for the British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet HOYS Grade C Championship Final at Horse of the Year Show.

Nicole Pavitt and Southend at South of England show
Photo: Stephen Lawrence

The initial starters were reduced to twelve for the jump-off and it was Nicole Pavitt from Crawley, West Sussex who claimed the win with Matthew Pike’s Southend, an 11 year-old British bred gelding who has already gained tickets to the Senior Newcomers and Foxhunter Championships at Horse of the Year Show. They stopped the clock in 40.62 seconds, one of the quickest times of the class.

Close behind was Phillip Miller on Diana Cornish’s seven-year-old Belgian bred gelding Hot Pepper S; they crossed the finish line with a double clear in 41.11 seconds. Third place and the final qualifying ticket went to Taisie De Gruchy and Lauren De Gruchy’s Live the Life, an 8 year-old British bred whom Taisie has produced herself over the last three years. They posted a double clear in 42.57 seconds.

The Horse of the Year Show 2019 will take place from October 2-6 at Birmingham’s NEC.

Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan head to Hickstead

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.


Shane Breen and Can Ya Maken in action previously at Hickstead Photo: Nigel Goddard

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

Don’t miss Hickstead’s top class Derby meeting

The Al Shire’aa Hickstead Derby is one of the most popular events in the British equestrian calendar and is fast approaching.

The Derby meeting at Hickstead takes place from June 20-13 this year, and offers the chance to see top class competitors in action.

Last year William Funnell joined Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken, and John and Michael Whitaker as a four-time winner of the Al Shira’aa Derby. Can he go one better this year to make history?

William Funnell

Around 45,000 spectators are expected to flock to the West Sussex showground in June, with visitor numbers peaking during the famous Al Shira’aa Derby on the Sunday afternoon.

The Derby course is outstandingly tricky, with iconic obstacles such as the Derby Bank, the Devil’s Dyke and the double of water ditches guaranteeing plenty of thrills and spills for spectators.

William Funnell coming down Hickstead’s Derby Bank at a past meeting. Photo: Nigel Goddard

But as well as the eight busy rings of equestrian action, there is a lot more to see and do during the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting.  A new family zone will feature a funfair, with half price rides on Thursday and Friday, as well as entertainment from popular local company Tomfoolery.

Admission is free for all children under five for the duration of the show, with discounts available for children aged five to 14, pensioners and on family tickets.

There are more than 150 stands in the Charles Owen Shopping Village, giving shoppers the chance to browse many of the leading countryside brands.

This year, there is free general admission on the Thursday of the show, to encourage people to come along to experience the outstanding shopping for themselves.

There is also the wide range of bars and eateries, from the street food vans, the artisan food hall or one of the many bars and restaurants, all the way up to fine dining in one of the hospitality options.

Nicole Pavitt’s Senior Foxhunter second round win

Nicole Pavitt has won the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Second Round at Bicton Arena in Devon.

The arena played host to the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Second Round during its Summer Spectacular Show and it was Nicole Pavitt who claimed the win.

With two direct qualifying tickets on offer for the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Championship Final at Horse of the Year Show in October, all eighty starting combinations had their hearts set on a treble clear.

Designer Rafeal Suarez provided questions all over the course and only three combinations managed to earn a treble clear.

Nicole Pavitt from Crawley, West Sussex had her foot firmly on the accelerator as she crossed the finish line in 41.47 seconds aboard Matt Pike’s 11 year-old chestnut gelding Southend.

This gave her victory by just 0.63 of a second over William Funnell and the Billy Stud’s Billy Spiral, a seven- year-old mare with Billy Mexico lines, who crossed the line in 42.10 seconds.

Nicole Pavitt and Southend following their second round victory at Bicton
Photo: ESP Photographic

The top two combinations secured their place in the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Championship Final at Horse of the Year Show and the top five took home the chance to compete in the Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Masters at the British Showjumping National Championships.

Results of Equitop Myoplast Senior Foxhunter Second Round
1, Nicole Pavitt & Southend – 0/0/0 – 41.47 seconds
2, William Funnell & Billy Spiral – 0/0/0 – 42.10 seconds
3, Benjamin Bick & Moonraker – 0/0/0 – 44.48 seconds
4, Julien Mincher & Doublem Chacco – 0/0/4 – 43.03 seconds
5,Elliott Smith & Flamboyant III – 0/0/4 – 45.91 seconds

Qualifications will be updated pending official grading of results.

The Horse of the Year Show 2019 will take place from October 2– 6  October at Birmingham’s NEC. The British Showjumping National Championships 2019 will take place during August 6 – 11 August at the National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Equine America supports Hickstead ring

One of the All England Jumping Course’s eight rings has been given a major makeover ahead of this year’s international shows.

The Equine America Ring Three has been transformed from a grass ring to a state-of-the-art vast all-weather arena, measuring 65m x 127m. It has the same Andrews Bowen surface as used in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Perfect going in Hickstead ‘s Equine America Ring Three  Photo courtesy of Hickstead

Competitors will be pleased to know there is also a new warm-up area incorporated into the arena, alleviating the pressure on the other collecting rings. Elsewhere on the showground, the Hickstead team has extended the Airowear Ring 4 warm up by an extra 450 sq m.

Renowned supplements company Equine America has taken on naming rights to Ring Three, as part of a three-year agreement.

“Equine America is absolutely thrilled to support Hickstead as the title sponsor of the newly-transformed Ring 3 and the new Water Complex, which forms part of Ring 4,” said Lee Middleton, Managing Director of Equine America UK Ltd.

He added: “In addition, we also look forward to inviting our customers to The Equine America Pavilion, where you can chat with our hugely respected nutritionist, Deborah Lucas and benefit from the prime viewing location.”

Ring Three and Ring Four will later form the Hickstead all-weather cross-country schooling facility, which will be launched this autumn. Equine America have also taken on the naming rights of the Water Complex, which will be the main feature of this fabulous new addition.

“We are looking forward to the start of our international season next month, and we’re sure the new Equine America Ring Three is going to prove very popular with our competitors,” said Hickstead Director Edward Bunn.

“Not only will they ride on an Olympic-standard surface, but this gives us a contingency in the event of very wet weather and will allow us to hold more external events during the summer as well as forming part of our new cross-country schooling facility. We are also very grateful to Equine America for their support of Hickstead.”

Hickstead now has four all-weather arenas, including the international warm-up and the Bunn Leisure Arena. The famous Longines International Arena, however, which was given a £500,000 renovation in 2011 to ensure all-weather footing with a turf surface, will always remain a grass arena.

Tickets for the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (June 20-23 ) and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (July 23-28 ) are on sale now from

Steve Guerdat to compete at Spruce Meadows

The 2012 Olympic Champion, winner of three Majors, current FEI World Cup Champion and No. 1-ranked show jumper in the world- Steve Guerdat (SUI)- has committed to compete at Spruce Meadows this summer

The year, 37 year old Swiss equestrian legend  confirmed he is scheduled to compete in three of the Spruce Meadows CSI5* Summer Series Tournaments, together with six of his horses that will be travelling with him.

“It is a great opportunity for me to come with my horses to Spruce Meadows during the summer. I have been competing the past 5 years at the ‘Masters’ in September, but always wanted to come for the ‘National’, ‘Continental’ and ‘Pan-American’ presented by ROLEX in June,” said Guerdat. “I have always been a great supporter of these traditional events, with big grass arenas and enthusiastic crowds. Spruce Meadows has mastered the secret formula between tradition and innovation – it’s fantastic”.

Steve Guerdat, number one for Longines FI Jumping World Cup  Phito: John Simpson

Spruce Meadows is recognized as one of the leading equestrian destinations in the world. Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada the outdoor venue welcomes the best equestrian athletes in the world. From tradition to new developments, Spruce Meadows always offers the highest quality experience. It is common to see former and current champions at Spruce Meadows, such as Eric Lamaze, Steve Guerdat, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Kent Farrington, all of whom are scheduled to compete at Spruce Meadows this summer.

While the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament, the September leg of the ROLEX Grand Slam of Show Jumping, has always been recognized as the pinnacle of the season, Spruce Meadows has been playing host to four weeks of top international competition each summer for 44 consecutive years and counting.

International riders from more than 20 nations compete at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series. Recently retired Hall of Famer, Ian Millar, also known as Captain Canada, has fond memories of his summers in Calgary, where, for Canadians and international athletes alike, “a single month of competition is like an additional five years of experience,” he says.

The Spruce Meadows Summer Series starts with the ‘National’ presented by ROLEX on June 5 and conclude with the ‘North American’ presented by ROLEX on July 7.

Amy Inglis has double clear in CSIO 5*

It was another outstanding performance from the CSIO 5* debutante Amy Inglis when she jumped double clear in the Grand Prix of La Baule, France to finish in fourth place.

Friday had seen Amy make her first appearance on a top level nations cup team in great style when she produced the best result of the Brits by finishing on just a single time penalty across both rounds having left all fences untouched.

As if that wasn’t enough to get her noticed, she later came out and jumped a double clear in the Grand Prix, one of only four combinations to do so, claiming fourth place in what was a world class competition.

Amy Inglis and Wishes  : Photo by: Lewis Harding Photography

Making her performance all the more meaningful was that she was riding her mother’s homebred  11 year-old chestnut mare, Wishes,  who she has produced slowly up through the ranks herself.

It was a field of forty-five riders that came forward to contest the 1.60m course that twisted and turned its way across the vast grass arena at the Stade Francoise Andre..

There was just a total of eight  that managed to achieve a first round clear with Amy being the sole Brit to make it through amid what was a strong and established group. The fourth rider to come forward, and with no clears having been achieved at that point, Amy set the grandstands alight when she posted the first clear putting pressure on the remaining riders coming up behind her.

It was three of them that achieved the challenge set by jumping clear in a faster time with  Simone Blum (GER) taking the win with DSP Alice in a time of 43.33 seconds.  Hot on their heels and just a fraction of a second slower were Steve Guerdat (SUI) on Albfuehren’s Bianca, and Kenny Darragh (IRE) with Important de Muze who took second and third spots respectively.

For Amy, it was a fourth place finish ahead of Gregory Wathelet who was the fastest on 4 penalties with Iron Man van de Padenborre.

Talking afterwards Amy said “ I’m finding it hard to talk about it and take it all in if I’m honest as it hasn’t really sunk in yet.  She [Wishes]  is just so good, she jumped the Nations Cup like it was no effort to her and she’s such a fighter.  Then today when it was even bigger she just fought a bit harder.  She loves it and she is so brave with the biggest heart.

“It was the biggest course we have ever jumped, but I tried not to think about it and I knew there was no reason to worry as she would always do everything I ask of her.  I just wanted to go out and do our best and I am so happy with her.

“When I walked the course I kept saying I thought it was getting bigger, it looked really big as it’s our first time at this level.  Today has meant everything, Friday was amazing but to come out and  jump double clear today in the Grand Prix has just been unbelievable!”

British Showjumping would like to thank NAF, title sponsors of the Senior Nations Cup Teams along with the Children, Junior, Young Rider and Veteran teams.

The GBR showjumping teams are supported by the British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Programme, funded by UK Sport through the National Lottery. The Programme focuses on identifying talent, developing potential and maximising medal-winning performances on the world stage.


William Funnell could set new Hickstead record

Surrey-based international showjumper William Funnell could set a new record this summer as he bids to become the first rider to win the Al Shira’aa Derby five times.

Funnell secured a hat-trick of Hickstead victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with the Mondriaan, before adding a fourth win to his CV last summer with the homebred Billy Buckingham. In doing so, he joined an illustrious group of riders to have had four wins in Hickstead’s most iconic class, including Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken and brothers John and Michael Whitaker.

The first rider to achieve four wins was Ireland’s Eddie Macken, who won every year from 1976 to 1979 all with the same horse – Boomerang. So remarkable was their Derby record that Eddie took home the original trophy to keep, and a new one was created. The Boomerang Trophy, which depicts the pair coming down the iconic 10ft 6in slope of the Derby Bank, has been presented to the winner of the Hickstead Derby ever since.

Harvey Smith was the next rider to clock up four victories, but it was his initial double on Mattie Brown in 1970 and 1971 that ended up becoming one of the most talked-about moments in Derby history. A year after winning the class for the first time, Harvey returned to Hickstead without bringing back the trophy.

William Funnell coming down Hickstead’s Derby Bank Photo: Nigel Goddard

Douglas Bunn, the owner of Hickstead, demanded it be sent for, but Harvey told him that it wouldn’t matter, because he would be winning it again. Although the trophy was eventually sent for, there was still some tension between the pair. In the Derby, true to his word, Harvey produced the best jump-off round to take the title, and after crossing the finish line he flicked a v-sign in the direction of Douglas in the Master’s Box – a gesture that did not go down well with officials!

He won again in less controversial fashion in 1974, this time on Salvador, before adding a fourth win in 1981 on Sanyo Video, a horse normally ridden by son Robert who was on a month’s suspension.

The Whitakers are showjumping’s best-known family, and it is apt that both John and Michael Whitaker hold the honour of having four Derby wins apiece. In 1980, a 20-year-old Michael became the first of the pair to win the class, riding Owen Gregory to victory, and he later followed up with a hat-trick with Mon Santa, winning every year from 1991-1993.

Unlike the other riders, all four of John Whitaker’s wins were on different horses, with 21 years between the first and the most recent. The first was with Ryan’s Son in 1983, then he had a further two wins with the veteran horses Gammon (1998) and Welham (2000) – aged 21 and 20 respectively. His most recent win came in 2004, riding Douglas Bunn’s homebred Buddy Bunn, a catch ride from the injured William Funnell. John had only sat on the horse the day before his Hickstead win, yet he went on to produce one of the most impressive clear rounds ever seen in the Derby.

While Eddie Macken and Harvey Smith have retired from competition, the Whitakers are still competing at the highest of levels, and they are the only riders who could rival William Funnell’s bid to set a new Derby record – although it has been a few years since either had an entry in the class.

“It would be nice to win it five times, if I found the right horse I would definitely go for it,” said Michael. “But I think Will Funnell is favourite to break the record, he’s got a real Derby horse in Billy Buckingham.”

William Funnell’s talented 11-year-old gelding will have a strong chance if he is fit and well on the day, though the rider refuses to be overconfident. “With a horse like Billy Buckingham, there’s every chance we could win it a fifth time. But there’s more pressure this year because everyone is expecting we can do it again, and having been round twice without knocking a fence down the odds are he’s got to have a fence down one year!” says William.

History could be made in the 59th Al Shira’aa Derby, which takes place on the final day of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (20-23 June). Tickets are on sale now from