Douglas Bunn

Douglas Bunn, who died in 2009, left an enduring legacy to his beloved sport of showjumping. He had once dreamt of opening a showground that could rival those on the continent. In 1960, his dream was realised with the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, a venue that would quickly become one of the best known showgrounds in the world. 

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By 1959, Douglas understood the pressing need for facilities in Britain that could match those found abroad in Europe and the United States. His intention was 'to put on the best showjumping possible anywhere in the world', and thus the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, was born.

With characteristic determination and flair, Douglas certainly achieved what he set out to do all those years ago, and in 2010 Hickstead celebrated its 50th anniversary. In those five decades, he'd seen a small field in the heart of rural Sussex transformed into one of the world's leading equestrian venues.

Among the many highlights, Hickstead has played host to a multitude of World and European Championships. Nor was anyone more delighted than Douglas when, in 2008, Hickstead won the right to continue hosting the only FEI Nations Cup competition in Britain.

The Master of Hickstead, as he was fondly known, was also a master of invention. He not only created the now popular sport of team-chasing, but also such crowd pleasers as the Eventing Grand Prix, the only competition in the world where showjumpers and eventers are pitted against each other. It was a clever invention that inspired a multitude of similar events.

No one has summed him up better than his friend Michael Clayton, past editor of Horse & Hound:

"Douglas was undoubtedly the greatest innovator in British showjumping in the post-war years. He succeeded in creating his personal vision virtually on his doorstep at Hickstead - and he made the horse world come to him in his native Sussex.

Douglas had flair as well as originality in making horse sports fun for the spectator as well as offering a new challenge to the competitor. He relished controversy, and was never afraid to break new ground; his contribution was unique. Above all he was a true horseman, and loved the challenge of cross-country riding in the hunting field as much as the disciplines of showjumping."

Despite his worldwide fame, Douglas was happiest at home in Sussex, with his children and grandchildren, who carry his dream into the future. He will be greatly missed.

To read more about Douglas and the first 50 years of the All England Jumping Course, buy the book Hickstead: A Golden Celebration or click on any of the below links: 

The Telegraph

The Times
The Guardian
The Independent

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