feature by Celeste Wilkins
Derby Dreams HICKSTEAD 2015
Celeste Wilkins visits the iconic All England Jumping Course at the Hickstead Derby Meeting for Horse & Style
n a small rural village in the idyllic English countryside, there’s an iconic showground that has attracted top horses and riders for over 50 years. Formally known as the All England Jumping Course, but known to many as simply Hickstead, the three shows held at the showground over the summer are a highlight for equestrians in Europe and the world over. The first fixture on the calendar is the Hickstead Derby Meeting, an FEI CSI4* fiveday show that culminates with the Equestrian.com-sponsored Derby.
The expansive showgrounds are a veritable showjumping dream. Four large jumping rings sit behind the International Arena, with several other schooling areas and warm-up rings adjacent. There’s a shopping village with everything from artisan food to equestrian essentials. Add bouncy slides plus children’s games, and entertainment is available for the whole family. The International Arena is flanked by grandstands and a glamorous Member’s Enclosure, complete with Champagne bar. Spectators come dressed in their finest, to sit beside the rings and watch the action. The big grass International Arena is famous for its natural features, including the massive 3m (9.8 feet) tall Derby Bank and the Devil’s Dyke, a sunken combination of three rather fragile looking verticals set at a one stride distance, with a water tray under the middle obstacle. Poles are wide and heavy, but don’t be deceived – planks and gates are set on flat cups and tumble with the slightest touch. Still a traditional showground, many of the jumps are exactly the same as they were decades ago.
Public course walk for the Equestrian.com Derby.