Five minutes with Douglas Hinckley

Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn continues her 'Five Minutes With' series with Douglas Hinckley, the managing director of WHMG, the firm responsible for all of Hickstead's on-site security and stable management…


What is your role at Hickstead?

My company WHMG is responsible for all the security, stable management, incident management and emergency response at Hickstead - basically keeping everyone safe, sound and happy from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave the showground, visitors and competitors alike.

Whilst I have worked for Hickstead in my current role for nearly 7 years now (having worked on and off for the past security providers on and off for years), my ties to the showground, and to the Bunn family stretch much further back. My mother and Douglas (Bunn) were a couple for a long time, and we moved as a family to live at Hickstead when I was a young teenager - the Bunns are like siblings to me, and I have great memories of running around causing general havoc with my partners in crime Chloe and Daisy (interviewer's note: pointing his finger squarely at me!) in our younger years.

The secret to our job here is that if we do a good job, no one should really notice we're here - good security and management is unobtrusive and goes on quietly and efficiently in the background - until such a time as we need to step forward and manage and resolve any problems that arise.

The two summer shows are some of the biggest outdoor events in the world, and as such there are additional security considerations that must be put in place and considered. The horses too that are put in our care are not just hobby horses, they are serious, professional horses, as well as being seriously valuable, and it is a responsibility we take very seriously. One of the unique facets of our job here at Hickstead is striking the balance between looking after professionals here to do a job, and the many thousands of visitors who come for a day out.

What is the best/funniest bit about the role?
It's a tremendous honour and great feeling to play such an integral role at such fantastic events, and to work with such great teams - both the Hickstead team and my WHMG team. All of our men are ex forces or police force, professional men with a wealth of invaluable experience - I don't thank them enough for the hard work they do, and it really is a privilege to lead them.

The nature of our job is that you spend a lot of time away on the road, and as such you spend an awful lot of time with each other, and many of the WHMG men have become like a second family to me. At the end of the day security is a certain type of work that entails long hours, night work, and often heavy exposure to the elements, but despite this we try and produce a pleasant, productive and professional working environment for everyone. We cover many of the big equestrian events in the UK now, providing stable management as well as security, and I have very much enjoyed getting to know a lot of the top riders, and their teams, so well. It is a great pleasure to work with them when they're "off duty", behind the scenes, and also to see such talent at work.

As you can imagine dealing with as many people as we do, a lot of funny things can happen in the course of a day and a night - not much that I can mention in print though! One incident that does spring to mind and make me chuckle though is that when we introduced mandatory electric wire a few years ago in stallions' stables, for safety, one very worried woman didn't have any and called worried that she would not be allowed access. We spent some time trying our best to organize some for her and come up with a good solution so that she could still come and compete… and it wasn't until she arrived that we realized she was competing in the Miniature Horse showing classes - and her stallion was about a foot high - and not in desperate need of electric fencing to stop him climbing over the top of the ten foot stable!

What is the worst bit about the role?
I love my job but hands down the worst bit is being away from my young family, as my two little boys are only 1 and 3, and my lovely wife Marie. It's tough missing certain milestones of their young lives, but Marie is an incredible mother, and we really try and make it count when I am there. Having Skype these days does help a bit as they get to see my face a bit more when I'm away, but I always try and remember that the whole reason I am out doing what I do is to provide for them and give them the type of life I want for them.

What is your best Hickstead memory?
Chloe Bunn (Breen) winning the Speed Derby on Hoots (her bay mare Citi Dancer). Chloe is like a sister to me, having grown up living with her for a long time, and seeing her win such a prestigious event, and on home turf, was brilliant.

Another win that holds a really special place for me was William Funnell winning the Derby the year that Douglas died (and the day before his funeral) - the Funnells are great friends of the Bunns and we all felt that Douglas was looking down and smiling that day.

Douglas was like a second father to me, having lost my own father Douglas in a hunting accident when I was only 2, and I remember vividly the day my not-so-illustrious showjumping career came to an end. I remember Douglas booming at me across the warm up when I was about 14 and was really struggling to see a stride on the pony I was on at the time - down went my whip in a bit of a tantrum as I thought to myself "well what does HE know anyway"… and from that day on realized that hunting and quad bikes were far more up my street than competitive jumping! Douglas and I laughed about it many times in the years after.

What would you do if you didn't work at Hickstead?
Easy - (fox)hunt all year round. Hunting is one of my great passions, and as a Joint Master of the Meynell and South Staffs, I am rarely happier than fleeing over field and dale.

What are you doing now, less than a week before the show?
We moved on to site yesterday and we are now busy rehearsing emergency procedures with the team, building the security compound, including the security fencing and the installation of CCTV. Hickstead is a working equestrian farm for the remainder of the year, so it's important that we work our way around the perimeter hedging and make sure no naughty horses have put any holes in it during the winter that would compromise security!



Harriet Nuttall Q&A

Showjumper Harriet Nuttall has an extraordinary record at Hickstead, having won the Science Supplements Speed Derby twice, the Science Supplements BHS Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix - plus finishing runner-up three times in the Al Shira'aa Derby. Alex Irwin caught up with her to find out more about what makes her tick. 

Read more


Holly Smith Q&A

Alex Irwin caught up with Hickstead star Holly Smith at the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships 

Read more


The unstoppable Irish

Victoria Goff looks back at Ireland's stunning win in the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain, and goes back into the history books to remember the other memorable Irish wins at Hickstead 

Read more


William’s fabulous four

William Funnell joined the elite band of four-time winners of the Hickstead Derby last summer. Victoria Goff spoke to him about what it means to join the likes of Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken and brothers John and Michael Whitaker. 

Read more


Top Speed

We take a look back over the history of the British Speed Derby. 

By Victoria Goff

Read more


Five of the best

Five riders share the record of having four wins in the Hickstead Derby. Victoria Goff takes a look through the archives to relive these legendary performances. 

Read more


Coming of age

A few days before his 21st birthday, James Whitaker scored his first major Hickstead win. Victoria Goff caught up with him ahead of the 2019 Longines Royal International Horse Show. 

Read more


A Platinum President

The BHS President Martin Clunes is a regular visitor to Hickstead. Victoria Goff finds out more about his role at the British Horse Society, and why he loves coming to our shows 

Read more


10 magical showing moments

We take a look back over some of the standout showing moments from the 2017 season 

Read more


Miss Consistent

Harriet Nuttall proved she's no Hickstead bridesmaid, when adding yet another major title to her CV last summer. Victoria Goff caught up with the reigning Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner 

Read more


Perfect Timing

Paul Tapner talks to Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff about his first win in the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge

Read more


Fiesta Time

Brazil had an extraordinary run of form at last year's Longines Royal International Horse Show. Victoria Goff finds out more. 

Read more


Worth the wait

Victoria Goff describes the wait Nigel Coupe had before he finally become the Al Shira'aa Derby Champion in 2017. 

Read more


Doing it for Ella

Hickstead's press officer Victoria Goff caught up with Matthew Sampson, the winner of the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby 

Read more


Race against time

Victoria Goff takes a look back at some of the famous Hickstead Derby jump-offs that have taken place over the years. 

Read more


A New Era

Victoria Goff finds out more about Al Shira'aa, the title sponsors of the Hickstead Derby 

Read more


Q&A with Georgie Strang

Next week sees one of the UK’s largest horse shows open their gates for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show. We caught up with one of the MS Amlin Eventers' Challenge competitors, Georgie Strang, and found out how she’s feeling about returning to Hickstead for her second shot at the title…

Read more


12 moments we loved at this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting

The Al Shira’aa Derby drew our June fixture to a close, and what a way to round off four fabulous sunny days of showjumping and showing. We take a look back at some of the best moments of this year’s show.

Read more


#RoadToHickstead contenders reveal...

We ask some of our leading Al Shira'aa Derby contenders some killer questions.

Read more


Harriet and Nigel go head-to-head

Two of the main Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby contenders, Harriet Nuttall and Nigel Coupe, discuss this year's challenge.

Read more


Hickstead Q&A - Hamad Ali Al Kirbi

UAE rider Hamad Ali Al Kirbi made his Hickstead debut last summer when he competed at the Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting. We caught up with him ahead of this year's show. 

Read more


Can you spot our Mystery Guests?

We're very busy preparing the International Arena ahead of this year's Al Shira'aa Hickstead Derby Meeting CSI4*, and with spring being somewhat late to arrive this year we've had to ask some special guests to join our Ground Crew! 

Read more


Billy the King

Ireland's Billy Twomey enjoyed an amazing run of success at the 2016 BHS Royal International Horse Show, including a win in the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup. Victoria Goff spoke to him about his golden run.

Read more


A home from home

Hickstead is very familiar stomping ground for David Simpson, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner in 2016. Victoria Goff spoke to him about winning on 'home territory'. 

Read more


The One to Watch

In the run up to the 2017 Longines Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Goff caught up with Amlin Plus Eventers' Challenge winner Esib Power.  

Read more


The nation's favourites

Earlier this year, we asked you to vote for your favourite Derby-winning horses. Victoria Spicer counts down your top 10. 

Read more


An unforgettable Adventure

Adventure De Kannan is one of the most successful Hickstead horses of recent times. Victoria Goff looks back at the remarkable career of the one-eyed wonder horse

Read more


William Whitaker: How to win the Derby

The 2016 Hickstead Derby winner William Whitaker shares his winning formula! 

Read more


William Whitaker: Advice for Hickstead newcomers

If you haven't ridden at the All England Jumping Course before, reigning Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker shares his insights into competing here.

Read more


William Whitaker: The perfect warm-up

The current Hickstead Derby champion William Whitaker explains how to nail your warm-up routine, both at home and at competitions. 

Read more


William Whitaker: Winning a jump-off

Want to nail those jump-off rounds? Hickstead Derby 2016 champion William Whitaker shares his advice, and suggests two training exercises to improve your performance against the clock. 

Read more


William Whitaker's training secrets

In the run up to this year’s Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, reigning Derby champion William Whitaker shares his showjumping training insights.

Words by Victoria Spicer, photos by Daisy Honeybunn

Read more


6 links between Hickstead and the Grand National

The home of British Showjumping and the most famous race on earth have more in common than you might think, writes Victoria Spicer...

Read more


A winning debut

Chloe Winchester, winner of the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2015, chats to Victoria Spicer about her winning debut at Hickstead

Read more


Elizabeth the first

Last year Elizabeth 'Beezie' Madden became the first woman ever to win the Longines King George V Gold Cup. In 2015, she did it again. Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer caught up with America's first lady of showjumping. 

Read more


12 moments we loved at this year's Derby meeting

There was rain, there was mud, but much more importantly there was some brilliant competition at this year's Hickstead Derby Meeting. We choose our top 12 moments from this year's show. 

Read more


Back on top

Hickstead Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the connections of Loughnatousa WB, a horse who holds a very special record in the Derby...

Read more


Three in a row

Journalist Andrew Baldock takes a look back over the Hickstead archives at the three riders who have won the Derby three times in succession - and finds out which other riders came close...

Read more


A cool guy

Victoria Spicer chats to Guy Williams, the winner of the 2015 British Speed Derby, about setting records and why Hickstead will always be special to him

Read more


Eight great Derby rivalries

There have been some amazing clashes in the 56 years of the Hickstead Derby. Pippa Cuckson takes a look at some of the great rivalries over the years...

Read more


Breen’s Derby dream comes true

Hickstead's Press Officer Victoria Spicer chats to the 2014 winner of the Derby, Trevor Breen. 

Read more


Five Minutes with Fran Callan

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... series, we caught up with Fran Callan, the head travelling groom for Trevor Breen. As part of her job, she looks after Hickstead megastar and reigning Derby winner Adventure De Kannan...

Read more


Miller's tale

Victoria Spicer meets Phillip Miller, winner of the 2013 Hickstead Derby, to talk about his rise from riding school lessons to Hickstead champion. 

Read more


A lesson with Derby winner Phillip Miller

When we ran an exclusive Hickstead Derby Community competition to win a lesson with the 2013 Derby winner Phillip Miller, we had a great response. In the end, we selected 25-year-old Jodine Brooks from Kent and her seven-year-old Dutch gelding, Camorasun.

Read more


Five minutes with Douglas Hinckley

Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn continues her 'Five Minutes With' series with Douglas Hinckley, the managing director of WHMG, the firm responsible for all of Hickstead's on-site security and stable management…

Read more


15 facts about the Derby course

From poles that 'twang', resident newts and motorway fences turned into showjumps, Victoria Spicer investigates 15 things that you might not know about the most famous course in British showjumping...

Read more


Five minutes with Phillip Miller

Her latest victim in the 'Five Minutes With Series…', Daisy sits down with natural born comedian and Hickstead Derby superstar, 2013 winner Phillip Miller…

Read more


Five minutes with Bob Ellis

Daisy Bunn is back in the interviewer's chair this week with Hickstead's very own Bob The Buider, world renowned, Olympic course builder Bob Ellis...

Read more


10 iconic Derby moments

Last seen disappearing into our dusky archives, Hickstead Press Officer and journalist Victoria Spicer has put together a review of 10 of our most iconic Derby moments over the years, specially for our HDC members. 

Read more


Five Minutes with Steve Wilde

Continuing our new Five Minutes With... interview series, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn sits down with Hickstead's 'golden tonsils', commentator and Director of Ceremonies Steve Wilde...

Read more


Five minutes with Daisy Bunn

As part of a new series, exclusively for our HDC members, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn is going to catch key members of the Hickstead team for mini 5 minute interviews, to give our members a unique, behind-the-scenes take on everything Hickstead. Who better to start with than Daisy herself!

Read more


The best of the best

Equestrian journalist Charlotte Ricca-Smith asks Hickstead Derby winners to name the performance - apart from their own! - that impressed them most. 

Read more


A Hickstead first

In 2013, Paul Beecher became the first person to produce a clear round having been drawn first to go in the Hickstead Derby, then go on to win the class. Victoria Spicer spoke to him about his achievement.

Read more


A National treasure

Harvey Smith is the only man to have won both the Hickstead Derby and trained a Grand National winner. Victoria Spicer reflects on his remarkable achievement.

Read more


Olympic heroes

Did you know that three out of the four showjumping gold medallists from London 2012 are past winners of the Hickstead Derby? Victoria Spicer catches up with them to find out what those wins meant.

Read more



RH17 5NU

Tel: +44 1273 834315
Fax: +44 1273 834452

View our Privacy Policy.

Our website uses cookies

Find out more about how these are used in our privacy policy.