Former Derby champion Billy Buckingham put down

The 2018 Al Shira'aa Derby champion incurred a life-ending injury at home on Sunday 22 March 

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William Funnell's 2018 Al Shira'aa Derby champion Billy Buckingham has been put down after fracturing a fetlock joint at home.

The 12-year-old chestnut gelding had recently returned to the UK from the Spanish Sunshine Tour, and was due to spend a few weeks in light work before beginning preparations for another Derby attempt. 

"We are all devastated to lose a horse who we have watched develop from a foal bred by Donal Barnwell, to the star he became," said an official statement from the Billy Stud. 

Billy Buckingham stood out as a Derby contender from the outset, winning the Eindhoven Derby as a nine-year-old shortly before his Hickstead debut. In his first Al Shira'aa Derby attempt, he finished in fifth place on four faults plus a time fault, after a moment's hesitation at the top of the Bank. 

Twelve months later, he returned to Hickstead and produced a stunning clear round, going on to get the better of Holly Smith and Quality Old Joker in the jump-off. 

It was Billy Buckingham's first Derby win, but William Funnell's fourth - putting him in the record books alongside the other four-time champions, Harvey Smith, Eddie Macken, and John and Michael Whitaker. 

"It's such devastating news about Billy Buckingham," said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn. "We’ll never forget that performance in the 2018 Al Shira’aa Derby, when he took William Funnell to a historic fourth win. He was still a young horse, and it's so sad that his life and career have been cut short.

"We send our condolences to William, Pippa, and all the team at The Billy Stud."

As well as his Derby title, Billy Buckigham was a regular on British Nations Cup teams, and was part of Team GB at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018. 

"He was an enormous horse with a character to match, and will leave a giant hole in our team and hearts," added a spokesman for the Billy Stud. 

 

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