Five former champions among line-up for Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead

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Five winners of the Hickstead Derby are among the entrants for this year’s class, which takes place on Sunday, June 25 at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, West Sussex.

Reigning champion Shane Breen returns with his 2022 winner Can Ya Makan, in the hope of securing a back-to-back victory. He also brings rising star Scarteen, who impressed in Hamburg when finishing second in one of their Derby qualifiers.

His brother Trevor Breen is another who knows exactly what it takes to win Hickstead’s most iconic class, having been victorious in 2014 (Adventure De Kannan) and 2015 (Loughnatousa WB). He brings Gonzalo, who finished fourth in last year’s Longines King George V Gold Cup.

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William Funnell is in with a shout of making history if he can secure a fifth Derby win. Five riders share the record with four wins apiece, and Funnell has an excellent chance of bettering this, having already won in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2018. His ride Equine America Billy Diamo made his Hickstead Derby debut last summer, winning Friday’s Derby Trial before going on to finish in 11th place in the Al Shira’aa Derby.

Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan winning the Al Shira'aa Derby in 2022 | Picture: Elli BirchBoots and Hooves PhotographyShane Breen and Can Ya Makan winning the Al Shira'aa Derby in 2022 | Picture: Elli BirchBoots and Hooves Photography
Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan winning the Al Shira'aa Derby in 2022 | Picture: Elli BirchBoots and Hooves Photography

Guy Williams last won the Derby in 2010, but he’s consistently been in the placings in the years since. His Puissance specialist Mr Blue Sky UK would certainly be a popular winner with the Derby crowd, and he’s another who has jumped well round the challenging track on a number of occasions.

In 2016 William Whitaker became the third member of his famous family to lift the Boomerang Trophy, following in the footsteps of his uncles John and Michael. He finished sixth with Flamboyant III in 2022, in what was the horse’s first attempt at the class, so they could well be ones to watch in this year’s renewal.

Plenty of other riders on the entries list have come close to winning the Al Shira’aa Derby. Dermott Lennon has been placed many times, and last year he finished joint second with Gelvins Touch following a great round for four faults. Brazil’s Carlos Mota Ribas had a great show at last year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, finishing runner up in both the Speed Derby and the Derby itself. His rides Trix and Night Secret Z were both on good form in Hamburg, and it would be no surprise to see Carlos feature in the prizemoney again at Hickstead.

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Olympic rider Holly Smith has had a number of good rounds in the Al Shira’aa Derby, including finishing runner-up to William Funnell in 2018, and sixth equal in both 2019 and 2022. Alongside Holly in joint-sixth last summer were Irish talents Michael Duffy and Jordan Coyle, and both could be in the reckoning once more in this year’s class.

Other names to look out for include Ireland’s David Simpson, and British riders Robert Whitaker and Graham Gillespie, all of whom have been placed in the Derby.

Riders have to qualify for the Al Shira’aa Derby in Friday’s Agria Derby Trial. A world ranking class in its own right, it often highlights some new contenders each year for Sunday’s showcase class.

Tickets are on sale now from The action from the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (22-25 June) will be livestreamed on ClipMyHorse.TV and Hickstead.TV.

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