Excitement is brewing ahead of this week’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby (24 June) so H&H decided to visit three past winners — Cassabachus, Mondriaan and Adventure De Kannan — to find out what they’re up to now. Life is very good for this trio of Hickstead legends it turns out…
The three-time winner with William Funnell (2006, 2008 and 2009) retired to a standing ovation in a main-ring ceremony in 2011 and is now enjoying life at Denise Stamp’s Hampshire farm.
“He’s been with us for four years now,” says Denise. “He was in work until last October — I used to ride him myself. I’m only 5ft2in, I’m getting on a bit and I’ve got two new knees but he’s such a saint I always knew he would look after me, although I did have to use a mounting block to get off him!”
The consummate gentleman, now 24, is still treated like he is “going to win the Derby next week”, having a “good groom and his feet oiled” every day.
“He still thinks he’s number one,” Denise adds. “He calls when he wants to be brought in from the field, demands his dinner and breakfast first and makes an enormous fuss for treats when we do the late night check.”
Geoff Billington’s winner in 2008 was sold to Norwegian young rider Anette Ringnes the following year, where he has found a home for life. Anette and the grey have gone from junior classes to international two-star grands prix — including winning the Norweigian national championship in 2011 — and incredibly the 21-year-old is still out competing successfully.
“This year I have taken him down into lower classes just for him to have fun, although I am pretty sure he would jump anything I ask him. He is still very lively and super keen in the ring, to this day he has never refused a fence,” she says. “He’s never been lame, so we will keep going as long as he seems happy — and of course he will stay with me forever.”
From V-signs to veterans to pint-sized pony victories, the Hickstead Derby hasn’t been short of drama over the decades. Enjoy…
3. Adventure De Kannan
The worthy victor in 2014 with Irishman Trevor Breen proved a real Hickstead specialist and is now back with owner Karen Swann at her home in Ireland, where he spends his R&R time in the field with his “best mate”, Freddie the donkey.
“As well as hacking out and just generally enjoying our time, Addy and I get fabulous dressage lessons from paralympian James Dwyer and are members of our local Newpark Riding Club — we did one ODE last summer which we won, and plan to do more,” Karen says. “He babysits me over 80/90 cm — Addy is at his happiest jumping, he loves it and actually squeals in the cross country warm up as he knows what’s coming.”
>> Don’t miss our bumper preview to this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby in this week’s H&H (out Thursday 14 June) where we share top tips from past winners for riding the famous track and try to predict this year’s winner. Don’t miss it!