Hickstead’s Derby Meeting has been named Equestrian Event of the Year at the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) Business Awards.
The award come only two months after the Hickstead’s other international fixture, the Longines Royal International Horse Show, won the award for ‘Best Showjumping Event of the Year 2014’ by the international publication L’Année Hippique.
Some of Britain’s most popular equestrian events were on the shortlist for the award on Monday night, but Hickstead’s June fixture took the overall honours in the Caldene-sponsored category, with the Horse of the Year Show finishing runner-up. The award acknowledges the event that, as BETA states, ‘best works with its exhibitors and takes their requirements and views fully into consideration’.
The award was decided by a judging panel and an online vote from visitors and retailers: “The organising team are spot on – nothing is ever too much trouble,” was their verdict on Hickstead.
An estimated 40,500 spectators attended the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting last year, while the ever-growing Charles Owen Shopping Village featured nearly 200 shops and stands.
“The Derby is our most famous class so we’re delighted that the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting has been given this award,” says Lizzie Bunn, director of the All England Jumping Course.
“Our visitors come to see top-class showjumping, but Hickstead is becoming equally renowned for its superb shopping village – and the improvements in this area have definitely helped us increase our gate numbers.”
The Hickstead Derby was first held in 1961 and quickly established itself as one of the most iconic and coveted showjumping classes in the world. In 2014, Equestrian.com took over the title sponsorship, and as well as covering the substantial prize fund of £115,000, Equestrian.com also set up the Hickstead Derby Community, a unique members’ club that allows showjumping fans to become part of the class.
Last year’s victors were Ireland’s Trevor Breen and Adventure De Kannan, a horse with a phenomenal Hickstead record. As the first one-eyed horse to win the Hickstead Derby, Adventure De Kannan’s victory made headlines around the world.
“We are delighted for everyone involved who helped make the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting such a success in 2014,” says Equestrian.com CEO, Lorraine Meadowcroft. “These events only happen with hard work, passion and dedication, and with visitor figures up by 30% there is no doubt the teamwork involved made the event a ‘not to be missed’ occasion. We are now looking forward to this year’s meeting and continuing to showcase this very special event in the summer social calendar.”
This year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting runs from June 25-28. As well as the grand finale, the Equestrian.com Derby itself, the show features international showjumping classes such as the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby, and a new world ranking class for 2015, the Bunn Leisure Derby Trophy. There is also scurry driving, carriage driving and showing classes, plus the special Celebrity Polo Derby, held on the Saturday night.