Douglas Bunn

Douglas Bunn February 29, 1928 – June 16, 2009 
(Résumé of his Times Obituary)

Douglas Bunn was the youngest of three boys born to George and Alice Bunn and spent his formative years at Selsey where the huge caravan park, Bunn Leisure, is still the main family business and provider of most of the financial resources required to run the show jumping ground at Hickstead.

He attended  Chichester High School during the war years and then Trinity College Cambridge and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn from 1953 to 1959. Having grown up with ponies, he became a familiar figure on the show jumping circuit while still serving as a barrister. In 1960 he spotted two four year old horses in the yard of the Irish dealer Jack Bamber. Beethoven and The Maverick became two of Europe’s most successful show jumpers. With Beethoven Douglas was in the winning Nations Cup teams at Ostend from 1963 -65 and came second to Hans Winkler on Fortune in the King George V Gold Cup at the White City. He handed on the horse to David Broome who went on to win the World Championships in 1970-still the only occasion a British rider has won that championship.Douglas was, however best known for his setting up Hickstead Show Ground in 1960 which became established as the home of British show jumping, hosting nine European and World Championships and, since 1992 has hosted the Royal International Horse Show.

Douglas Bunn was a visionary in his field. His skills encompassed negotiating great sponsorship deals, designing imaginative jumps and instigating the famous Jumping Derby with its famous Hamburg Bank, thought by many to be too difficult. To date there have only been 49 clear rounds in the history of the Jumping Derby. The most famous of all clashes came in 1971 when Harvey Smith delivered his famous V sign. He had won the previous year, but had forgotten to bring back the trophy. This ended with an altercation with Bunn with Harvey Smith saying “There’ll be no need to return it, I’ll win again anyway!”. He duly did win it and cantered in front of Bunn’s box and delivered the infamous gesture.

Douglas was chairman of the British Show jumping Association for four years, Chairman of the Mid Surrey Farmers Drag Hound Association for 24 years and introduced Team Racing as an established  part of the sport in 1974.He was a very generous man and was reputedly sinking £350,000 a year of his own money into Hickstead.  He was married three times and had ten children.