Reigning Equestrian.com Derby champion Trevor Breen returns to Hickstead next week in the hope of claiming a third consecutive Derby title – but he faces a strong field of contenders.
Ireland’s Billy Twomey is among the favourites for Hickstead’s most famous class, which is held on the afternoon of Sunday 26 June. Billy finished second in the Equestrian.com Derby in 2015 with Diaghilev with just four faults, and the pair recently won the Hamburg Derby – so this year they are in with a chance of doing the Hamburg/Hickstead double.
All the other runners-up from last year are aiming to come back for another crack at winning, including Nigel Coupe (Golvers Hill), Steven Franks (Carlow Cruiser) and William Whitaker (Glenavadra Brilliant) who all finished on four faults apiece. Harriet Nuttall was not only equal second in the Derby last year with A Touch Imperious, but she also finished second in three more of Hickstead’s premier classes – if anyone deserves to step up from the runner up spot this year, it’s Harriet.
As well as Trevor, there are three former Derby winners entered at this year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting (23-26 June). Guy Williams was the winner in 2010 in what was Hickstead’s 50th anniversary year, and he came seventh last year on the grey Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof. William Funnell, three-time winner (2006, 2008 and 2009) has three Billy Stud horses entered for the meeting, including Billy Onslow, who finished 14th in last year’s Derby renewal. The 2013 winner and 2014 runner up Phillip Miller is back with the grey Caritiar Z, who has proved himself a number of times round the difficult Derby course - they finished seventh here last summer.
Other riders who did well last year and who could well feature again include Alfie Bradstock (KBIS Caicos) and Peter Smyth (Cavalier Rusticana). They both finished equal seventh, as did Shane Breen (Acoustik Solo Du Baloubet). Shane, the elder brother of Trevor Breen, is based at Hickstead and married to Chloe (nee Bunn), the daughter of the All England Jumping Course’s founder Douglas Bunn. Shane has been placed in the Derby on many occasions but has yet to lift the Boomerang Trophy.
“The stage is set for another thrilling Equestrian.com Derby here at the All England Jumping Course,” said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn. “We’re all excited to see whether Trevor can join the elite ranks of those who have won three times in a row, but there are many other riders who have a very good chance of taking the title, including the three other former Derby winners.”
The riders do have a hurdle to clear before embarking on their Derby challenge – first they must qualify in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, held on the morning of Friday 24 June. Only the top 35 combinations qualify for Sunday’s Derby, with places passing down the line-up if some riders do not declare for the Derby itself.
The Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting gets underway on Wednesday 22 June, with national showjumping classes only. Entry is free on this day as the showground is not fully operational. The international action starts on Thursday 23 June, when the Charles Owen Shopping Village will also open for business.
Tickets can be bought online, with great savings on offer to those who purchase in advance compared to those bought on the gate. E-tickets are sent instantly and allow purchasers to either print off their tickets and passes, or show them via their smart phone or tablet at the gate.
The action in the International Arena will be livestreamed from Thursday to Sunday on Hickstead.tv, while Sky Sports 3 will broadcast the Equestrian.com Derby live on Sunday 26 June.