14th June 2012
Who will win the Carpetright Derby, the feature class of Hickstead's British Jumping Derby Meeting?
All five of last year's runners up are coming back to Hickstead with the hope of winning the main event, and any one of them could be in with a shot.
Britain's Ronnie Healy, who left all the fences standing in the 2011 Carpetright Derby but received four faults when his horse Carlow Cruiser napped and reared at the entrance to the International Arena, is no doubt hoping to make amends this year and take the £35,000 top prize.
Ireland fielded two of the four-faulters in 2011 - David O'Brien on Mo Chroi, and Shane Breen, who is based at the All England Jumping Course and married to Chloe, the daughter of Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn. Shane has three horses entered at the Derby Meeting - Balloon and KEC Alicante. He's won the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby twice - will this year see him win Sunday's main event, the Carpetright Derby?
One of the favourites to win is Guy Williams, whose record in the class is hugely impressive. He was second last year on Richi Rich III, and won the year before on Skip Two Ramiro - both horses are entered at the meeting, so Guy is definitely one to watch.
The full start list for the Carpetright Derby will be available from Saturday 23 June, though Friday's Bunn Leisure Derby Trial should indicate some of the other names to look out for - the top 35 horses will all qualify for Sunday’s main event.
The action in the International Arena kicks off on Thursday 21 June, with the Stoner Jewellers Vase, a speed class, with the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard in the afternoon. On the Friday afternoon, the LED Sport Europe-sponsored Hickstead Master's Challenge is a unique class with a course of eight showjumps followed by four vertical gates all in a row. Saturday is all about the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby, where riders have to clear Hickstead's fixed obstacles at top speed, plus that evening we have the Celebrity Polo Derby, where teams of top showjumpers and celebrities take part in a polo match.
The British Jumping Derby Meeting has attracted a strong field of British and international riders across all four days of the show. Nick Skelton, Britain's number one, is due to bring his Olympic prospect Big Star to the All England Jumping Course, while Britain's number two Ben Maher - also a likelihood for the Olympic squad - is also entered. Entries also include a contingent of the famous Whitaker family, including Joe, Steven and William, plus former Olympian Geoff Billington.
The international entries feature riders from Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, Portugal and Ireland.
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Daily admission tickets start from just £8, with concessions available for children and senior citizens. Advanced tickets will be on sale until Friday 15 June, and then will be available on the gate on each day of the show.