Top showjumper and Ariat Pro Rider Tina Fletcher is encouraging showjumping fans to get behind the new Hickstead Derby Community ahead of this year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting (26-29 June 2014).
Tina, who won the Derby on Promised Land in 2011, modelled the official Hickstead Derby Community polo shirt during a photo shoot at the All England Jumping Course. The polo shirt marks out its wearer as an official partner of the event, and comes with automatic membership of the Hickstead Derby Community. Everyone who joins gets a free members’ ticket for Thursday 26 June (worth £26) plus a host of other discounts, offers and entry into money-can’t-buy competitions.
Priced at £24.99, the stylish navy, cotton pique polo shirt has gold embossed buttons and cream binding around the bottom of the sleeves, while the design features an embroidered horse descending the famous Derby bank. Available exclusively through title sponsor Equestrian.com, it is designed to make people feel part of one of showjumping’s most famous classes.
“I think the Hickstead Derby Community is a great idea,” said Tina. “It gives everyone a chance to get involved, and hopefully those people who might have watched the Hickstead Derby on television might this year come down to the showground and be part of the event.”
Promised Land gained a legion of fans with his exuberant jumping style and unfaltering bravery. They finished second behind Guy Williams in 2010, having jumped double clear, and when they went one better in 2011, Tina became the first woman to win the class since 1973.
“It meant everything to win. As a little girl, the Derby was always the class I watched on television, and it was always my ambition to win it,” Tina added.
The pair were hugely unlucky in 2013, when they were clear up until the Derby bank. Unfortunately, Promised Land stumbled slightly at the bottom of the bank, and though Tina tried valiantly to stay on board, gravity prevailed and their dream of a repeat Derby win was over.
“I’ve only ever fallen off him that once in all the time I’ve had him,” explains Tina. “I couldn’t believe it. You never know what might have happened round the rest of the course but he felt amazing that day and we had him spot on, so it was gutting. He’s been a great horse for me. We bought him for peanuts and he was always a bit of a lunatic, but at the same time he is very safe, with a great mind. He’s won a lot for me over the years.”
Now 19, Promised Land is having some time off in the field, and a decision hasn’t yet been made about whether he’ll return to international competition. “We’ll see how he is and take each day as it comes, but he’s getting older now,” said Tina. “He might be ridden by my sons instead.”
This June, Tina hopes to bring Unique to Hickstead for the Equestrian.com Derby. He has good form at the All England Jumping Course, having won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup under former rider Anna Edwards in 2010, and he jumped the Derby Trial with Tina the following year to finish in the top 10. “We’ll see how he goes this year. He’s never stopped at anything and is always really brave,” Tina said.
Showjumping supporters who buy a Hickstead Derby Community polo shirt are also being encouraged to enter Equestrian.com’s ‘selfie’ competition. Everyone who takes a picture of themselves in the polo shirt, whether on a horse, at the yard or somewhere exotic, and posts it on social media using the tag #hicksteadselfie, will be entered into a competition to win £100 of vouchers from leading retailer Equestrian.com.
To purchase tickets for the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting, or to join the Hickstead Derby Community, visit www.hickstead.co.uk.