What does it take to win the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead? We’ve summed it up to these three things: brains, athletic ability and a whole lot of guts. This challenging course features some of the most intimidating obstacles in show jumping, but William Funnell didn’t let that hold him back as he piloted his horse, Billy Buckingham, to the Derby win for what is now the fourth time in his career.
Check out William’s ride below!
William and Billy start the course out with a light pace to the first fence, a stone wall vertical, but move up to a lovely, expressive gallop for the remainder of the course. They have a slight rub on the second fence of the liverpool in-and-out, but remain clear.
Standing at 18 hands, Billy is a massive horse and he makes these fences look easy with his elegant form. One of the commentators even remarks, “he make’s it look like two-foot-six.”
But there is one obstacle on course that challenges even the top horse and rider pairs: the Derby Bank.They make their way up and over the vertical at the peak with little hesitation and Billy is sure-footed going down the bank. The following vertical is two strides out, but William and Billy glide over it effortlessly.
Another obstacle that resulted in heartbreak for many competitors was the open water, but it was no test of Billy’s bravery or talent as he sailed over without placing so much as a hair in the wrong place.
As they approach the final fence the crowd held their breath, but Billy had his game-face on. They soared over that final test while the spectators erupted in celebration as William Funnel put in his fourth winning round in the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby. There is definitely something to be said about a horse and rider who can make a course as trying as this one appear so smooth.