The Master of Hickstead, Douglas Bunn invented Team Chasing in 1974. He had been
invited to a sumptuous lunch by Alan Mouncer who was then a top ranking sports
producer at the BBC. The purpose of the invitation was to see if Duggie could
come up with any new ideas for Hickstead. After the third or fourth glass of
port Duggie suggested a team chase of five riders (four to count) over the
natural formidable fences on the Hickstead Estate. The conditions for the chase
were written on the back of the menu.
Twenty teams were invited to compete. Each equestrian discipline had its own
team (i.e. Eventers, Dressage, Show Jumpers, Jockeys, Hunters etc.). The one
and a half-mile course consisted of about 30 fences. The second was a 10ft drop
hedge closely followed by two 5ft solid rails into and out of the Railway.
So it continued mercilessly to the last 3 gigantic downhill fences which had
to be taken at full speed to be in with any sort of a chance.
The Team Chase was televised live on Good Friday and continued as an
annual event until the Hickstead Easter meeting was replaced by a Whitsun
meeting some eight years later. Thus the Team Chase was born and equestrians
all over the country soon realised that Team Chasing could become a very
attractive competition sport for 'grown ups'; it combined the thrill of
the chase, the speed of racing, the skill of eventing and the discipline of
show-jumping with spectacular ups and downs enjoyed by both competitors
and spectators alike.
Team spirit manifests itself in many ways none more so than
in the early days when Major Humphrey Mews having broken his leg at
the second fence called from the ground 'Carry on chaps, it is only a broken leg'.