A family affair: Doney winner takes Hickstead home victory

Sunday 23 June 2024

A family affair: Doney winner takes Hickstead home victory

The Bunn family – owners of the All England Jumping Course – had special reason to celebrate on the final day of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting.

“What a great success – I’m a winning owner-breeder,” joked Edward Bunn, Director of Hickstead, after Sunday morning’s Doney Championship. Edward’s daughter, Lucy Townley, and his horse, the seven-year-old Billy Adorable, had clinched the win after topping an eight-strong jump-off by more than half a second.

“I have Pippa Funnell to thank for that, actually,” said Lucy. “I finished second in this class last year, and she said that if I want to win this year, I’d have to take out a stride from the first fence to the second in the jump-off. I really wanted to win, so I came with purpose to number one, and then that kind of gave me my rhythm – so I stayed going and hoped it would keep coming, and it did.”

That’s not all Lucy has to thank Pippa for: it was at the Funnell’s Billy Stud Auction that she originally found her young talent, who she hopes will continue to deliver big-ring wins in the seasons to come.

“My father bought her at the auction three years ago. I said, ‘there’s a four year old here and I think she’s really special – and she has a great named, Adorable!’ So I convinced him to buy her, and she’s just been a joy. She’s fantastic. She won the Walwyn Final at Windsor, which is a young horse final, and I said then that my next big goal was to win the Doney.”

The first thing that caught her eye about Billy Adorable was, Lucy said, “something you should never choose a horse for – she was just really good-looking! But then, too, she had a great attitude – really forward-thinking, and really careful, with a lovely technique.”

That early assessment has proven prescient: “She's actually easier to ride in the jump off because you can just allow her to go forward, and it’s the pace she wants to be at. She loves it; she’s amazing.”

There might be a return trip to the Billy Stud Auction in store for Lucy, who laughed that the iconic Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby fences “make the Doney fences almost look small!”

“I’d love to do the Derby, but only if I could do it on a horse who’d really hold my hand! They’ve got to give you confidence to jump around your first time,” she said. “It’s a really special day, though – there are so many people here, and such a great atmosphere.”

The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting runs from 20-23 June at Hickstead in West Sussex. Tickets are available at the gate or can be booked online at www.hickstead.co.uk. All the action from the International Arena will be livestreamed on ClipMyHorse.TV and Hickstead.TV.

Image credit: Boots and Hooves Photography

 
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