Ahead of the 60th running of the world-famous Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby on Sunday 26th June, we’ve been chatting to some of the past winners to hear their stand-out memories of the class.
First Hickstead Derby memory
“Hearing that there was going to be a new showground at Hickstead in 1960 was exciting anyway, but very few, if any, of us had ever ridden in a Derby at that point so when we heard about the Hickstead Derby we were all looking forward to it,” says David. “It was a new challenge to all of us.”
First Hickstead Derby experience
“I was pretty lucky that first year because my horse Discutido had been round the Hamburg Derby and we just had the dyke down – there was only one clear, from the winner Seamus Hayes,” says David of the inaugural event in 1961.
“What I took away from that experience was just how daunting the bank was. It was in a different position in those early years – Douglas Bunn later moved it – and it looked big enough from the floor, but when you looked down from on top of a horse, I swear blind the bank disappeared back underneath you. It was quite a scary thing really and I think maybe one horse jumped off the top of the bank that year.”
The time it all went right in the Hickstead Derby
“I was a real jammy winner in 1966 with Mister Softee, who had already jumped round with David Barker, because he banked the privet hedge and kicked the middle of the three front poles out, but because he hadn’t dislodged the top one, we jumped clear,” recalls David.
“You always need a bit of luck to win a big class like that. Mister Softee was phenomenal, a real Irish stamp of a horse and he never took any notice of the fences. Everybody wanted to win the Hickstead Derby and in those days it carried substantial prize money – it’s the Grand National of showjumping. It still is a spectacular event and every year it has a story.”
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