The prestigious Hickstead Derby has a new sponsor for 2004 — the furniture giant DFS — plus an increased prize fund of £75,000, with £25,000 going to the winner.

The DFS Derby is one of only a handful of challenging derby events still taking place in Europe. It forms the final class of the British Jumping Derby Meeting, which will take place on 3-6 June this year, rather than its traditional August date which would have clashed with the Athens Olympics.

The class is always popular with the Hickstead crowds as riders from around the world face the daunting drop off the 10ft 6ins high Derby Bank; the challenging Devil’s Dyke; and many of the other permanent obstacles in the International Arena at the All England Jumping Course.

Lord Kirkham, founder and chairman of DFS, says: “I am proud to support the Hickstead British Jumping Derby, which attracts a diverse and discerning audience, who recognise the quality of the sport.”

This year’s event is likely to be as open as ever following the sale of Peter Charles’ Hickstead Derby specialist Corrada, to the continent last year. The Irish rider and the grey German-bred mare had made the class their own in recent years, with three wins in the past three years.

For more information on the DFS Derby visit: www.hickstead.co.uk