William Funnell (pictured), defending holder of the DFS Derby title, looks likely to face stiff opposition in his bid to enter the exclusive club of riders to have won Hickstead’s great challenge on successive years and on the same horse.
William automatically gets a starting ticket for this year’s DFS Derby (Sunday, 1 July) with his winning partner from last year, Cortaflex Mondriaan. But he has also entered Cortaflex Amber Du Montois and Cortaflex Billy Birr in the all-important derby trial from which the top 35 horses go forwards to Sunday’s main event.
Experience of Hickstead’s testing derby course — which takes in the famous Derby Bank, water, double of ditches and Devil’s Dyke — is invaluable and previous winners entered in the trial include 2005 winners Ben Maher and Alfredo II as well as Peter Charles, John Popely and John Whitaker.
Other names of note to watch out for include Tim Stockdale with Animation II, Robert Whitaker with Finbarr V and his cousin Ellen Whitaker with her top ride Locarno. Ellen’s younger brother Joe Whitaker is also entered for the Derby Trial with Boyram.
The DFS Derby will be televised on the BBC TV for those who cannot make it to the show, and you can keep up to date with the latest news and reports from Hickstead on www.horseandhound.co.uk