William Funnell joins Hickstead Record Holders

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Britain’s William Funnell joined an illustrious group of four-time winners when claiming the Al Shira’aa Derby today at Hickstead.

Riding the homebred 10-year-old Billy Buckingham, William was one of just two riders to go clear in the first round, meaning he had to jump-off for honours against Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker.

The first to go in the jump-off, William’s horse didn’t look in danger of touching a fence, although a foot in the water meant they finished with four faults in a time of 89.62sec.

It gave Holly a bit of breathing space, but she was caught out first by the black gate and then by the water as well, meaning she retired into second place.

William, 52, is the fifth rider to have four wins in the Hickstead Derby, having previously clocked up a hat-trick of victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with Cortaflex Mondriaan. He joins Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken who have all had four wins in this iconic class.

The Dorking-based rider now believes he could add to his Derby tally with Billy Buckingham. “As long as I’m fit and the horse is fit you’d like to think you could go on and win it a fifth time. It’s nice to be in the record books with those guys, and to do it this year on a homebred is special,” he said.

His horse was previously ridden by Lucy Townley, the daughter of Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. William took over the ride in 2017, and the pair finished sixth on their Derby debut last summer having hesitated at the top of the Bank and getting a time fault as well.

“We’ve done a bit of practice to make sure he’d come down the Bank. Last year I wondered if I’d wasted a clear round because they don’t come round here very often, so it’s nice to get another one and win it on a home-bred by [William’s championship horse] Billy Congo.”

 “I’d like to congratulate the Bunns on the work they’ve done in the arena, this is the best grass ring in the world with the best footing,” added William.

The Suregrow team are pleased to support such a fantastic and prestigious venue, helping to ensure the grounds and the stunning setting are looking their very best and enjoyed by all.

Hickstead director Edward Bunn: “The health and quality of the grass in the International Arena, benefits greatly from the addition of Suregrow fertilizer.”

Jonathan Cox of Suregrow said: “We are delighted to be supporting Hickstead once again as an Official Supplier.”

“With thousands of people attending Hickstead every year we are proud to be a part of creating such well-kept, maintained and beautiful surroundings with our outstanding Suregrow product range.”

Hickstead’s next international show is the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (25-29 July).william funnell - hickstead winner 18.jpg


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July 2, 2018  |   Share: