Nice and refreshed from a good night’s sleep I thought Mr Frog and Field may like the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby. So we packed up the car with dog supplies and brought the whole family along. Margaux hasn’t experienced a big show before but she soon got the hang of it. A little super star she is and I look forward to lots more adventures with her.

Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby.: ROR

First stop was the Retraining of Racehorses Classes. On the opposite side of the show ground there was a couple of classes going on. The classes were huge, and this meant they went on for quite a period of time. There were a few moments of naughtiness. Some kicking and the occasional head down and go faster moments but overall they were all very good. I am always astounded at how well they behave. Bear in mind these horses will have all raced and been quite ‘buzzy’ and yet here they are standing casually whilst one by one they are ridden.

Confirmation is very important in this class, making up 50% of the marks so each is stripped of their tack once the judge has ridden them. They are then stood up and trotted away so a second judge can assess their movement and confirmation (the way they are put together)

There was obviously a lot to consider and the horses must have all ridden very different. The final rankings were not at all how they had been initially pulled in. Some pleasant surprises and some disappointment. They should all be proud of themselves, they are looked beautiful and didn’t disgrace themselves.

Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby.: Imperials Ruby gets the crown

Into the main arena they went for the Championship, which had a prize fund of £2,500 pound! The Championship was won thanks to an almighty gallop by the second placed horse in our ring. Imperial’s Ruby looked the part, had manners to burn and clearly still remembered how to gallop! Fantastic win and I’m sure the most amazing brow band played a part. Smiles all around and again so delighted to see such a lovely partnership.

Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby: Derby Bank and Pimms

Now it was Derby time! I dropped Mr Frog and Field off at the Bollinger Bar and made him comfortable with a jug of Pimms. Margaux had her bed and decided that this horse malarkey was rather boring so she went to sleep.

The Derby was a little different to the previous classes and we were given pens to stand in. Only really 2 options, each offering a different view of the bank. I started in the first pen and watched a couple of horse slither down the bank. One to end up in a heap and two riders to depart company with their rides. The angle on the bank wasn’t great and as I’d been told the Derby is all about the bank.

I nipped across to the ditch where I was offered a much better view of the bank but limited views on the other fences. It was quite a challenge but not like anything I’ve ever experienced! Only 2 clear rounds resulted in a jump off and with Nigel Coupe and Golvers Hill getting four faults Harriet had to clear. Sadly it wasn’t to be and she finished on 8 faults meaning Nigel Coupe was crowned the Derby Champion.


What an end to a fantastic weekend. I was made to feel so welcome and I had such a good time I can’t wait to be back next year.