William Funnell will be aiming to secure a record fifth Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby next weekend – but a stellar line-up of riders will be doing their best to beat him to the title.
Current champions William and Billy Buckingham head the list of entries for next week’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting (20 to 23 June), with a host of strong contenders eyeing Sunday’s feature class.
If William does secure another win, he will become the first rider to take five Derby titles. Both John and Michael Whitaker, who have also each lifted the Boomerang trophy four times, have told H&H they think he can do it.
Trying to stop him will be Hickstead-based Shane Breen, who won the Bunn Leisure Derby trial last year and finished third in the class itself on Can Ya Makan, on whom he also finished second in last month’s Hamburg Derby.
Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker, who finished in second place to William after a jump-off last year, going one better than their third-place finish in 2017, will also be hoping to step up one more place this year.
Harriet Nuttall and A Touch Imperious have finished second in the Derby three times and were just off the podium in fourth place in 2018, while another rider hoping to become the first lady winner of the class since Tina Fletcher in 2011 is Esib Power, who has finished in the top 10 on a number of occasions, with Doonaveeragh O One.
James Whitaker is aiming to become the fourth Derby winner in the family, riding Glenavadra Brilliant on whom William won in 2016 and who James rode to fifth place last year.
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Another former winner likely to be on the start list is Nigel Coupe on his 2017 champion Golvers Hill, while in Saturday’s featured class, the Science Supplements Speed Derby Matt Sampson will be attempting to take three consecutive wins.
More than 80 riders have entered the international classes at the meeting, from Australia, France, Germany, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the USA, as well as strong representations of Great Britain and Ireland.
For a full report on all the action from the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, don’t miss next week’s H&H magazie, out 27 June.