The horseworld is today mourning the death of Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn, who passed away at home last night after short illness, aged 81.
A legendary figure in the horseworld, Mr Bunn founded the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in 1960, as well as the exhilarating sport of team chasing.
Horses were his life from the very start, a passion he inherited from his father. Born and brought up at Selsey Bill, Douglas’s father ensured he had ponies throughout his childhood at the family caravan park — Bunn Leisure. As he grew up, Douglas progressed to “the right horses” to help him realise his show jumping ambitions.
A barrister by trade, Douglas was known to sometimes go into court wearing breeches beneath striped trousers and gown, to hasten his exit to compete or rush home to exercise his horses.
Competing abroad led Douglas to realise show jumping in Britain was lacking a top-class facility, which lead him to open the All England Jumping Course in May 1960, and introduced his first British Jumping Derby the following year — along with the legendary 10ft 6in Derby bank, which many riders refused to jump.
More recently, Douglas introduce the Hickstead Eventing Grand Prix, where top level show jumpers and eventers compete together.
Personal friend and former H&H editor Michael Clayton said: “Douglas Bunn was undoubtedly the greatest innovator in British show jumping in the post-war years.
“He had flair as well as originality in making horse sports fun for the spectator, as well as offering a new challenge to the competitor.”
One minute’s silence will be held at the British Derby Meeting (25-28 June) and Douglas’s funeral will take place after the show.
See next week’s issue of Horse & Hound (25 June) for a full obituary.
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