Who will win the Hickstead Derby? All eyes are trained on the West Sussex showground where Irishman Trevor Breen makes a bid to win his third consecutive Derby.
The Derby is the crowning glory of the Hickstead Derby Meeting, which takes place from June 23 to 26. For the past two years, the title has been Breen’s preserve and the Irishman—who had already come tantalisingly close to victory in 2012, when he finished third, and 2013, when he finished second—is going to do his best to keep it.
This year, he’s fielding two horses: 2014 winner Adventure De Kannan, who is 16 years old, and 2015 winner Loughnatousa WB, who is 17. Over the course of the past few months, he has worked them lightly.
“They don’t need experience, they just need to be fit and match sharp,” he says. “It’s all about getting them there fit, healthy and sound to give them the best chance of winning.”
However, Breen will face stiff competition for the Boomerang Trophy. Among the strongest contenders is Billy Twomey, who finished second in 2015 aboard Diaghilev, and recently won the Hamburg Derby, as is last year’s equal-second Harriett Nuttall aboard A Touch Imperious.
But many past winners are also throwing their hat in the Derby ring: Guy Williams, who claimed the title in 2010, William Funnell, who won in 2006, 2008 and 2009, and Phillip Miller, who won the 2013 Derby and lost the 2014 edition to Breen by just 0.2sec, are all going to take part in the competition.
Breen will also have to face his own brother, Shane — husband of Chloe Bunn, daughter of All England Jumping Course’s founder Douglas Bunn — who finished seventh last year.
“The stage is set for another thrilling Equestrian.com Derby here at the All England Jumping Course,” says Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn. “We’re all excited to see whether Trevor can join the elite ranks of those who have won three times in a row, but there are many other riders who have a very good chance of taking the title, including the three other former Derby winners.”
The Derby action will begin with the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, the qualifier for Sunday afternoon’s Derby, on Friday June 24.
Image: the action at a past edition of the Hickstead Derby Meeting, by George Gunn, courtesy of Hickstead