After coming so close for the past two years, Ireland’s Trevor Breen finally achieved what he’d always wanted to do – winning the Equestrian.com Derby at Hickstead.
Breen’s Belgian bred horse Adventure De Kannan (Kanna x K. Adermie, by Ladalco) has a superb record at Hickstead, winning the Speed Derby in 2009 and the Eventing Grand Prix in 2012. But the Hickstead Derby kept eluding him – despite coming tantalisingly close with a third place in 2012 and second in 2013.
Last year Breen finished in runner-up spot in the Derby when ‘Addy’, who has only one eye, knocked the open ditch near the end of the course and picked up four faults, meaning Phillip Miller won the top prize. But this year the roles were reversed when Miller had to settle for second place.
There have been only 54 clear rounds in the 54 year history of the Derby, and this year there were none – with Miller and Breen both knocking a fence down and having to jump-off for the title.
First to go in the jump-off, Miller and last year’s winning horse Caritiar Z picked up another four faults at the Devil’s Dyke. So Breen had the choice of trying to net a steady clear – or going quickly to ensure he was fastest even if he had a fence down. He opted for the latter and when the Privet Hedge Oxer fell he had to leave all the other fences standing and cross the line quicker than Miller’s time of 85.19sec. This he did – to finish fractionally faster in a time of 85.17sec, the closest Hickstead Derby jump-off of all time.
After being so devastated not to win the Boomerang Trophy last year, this year Trevor Breen was emotional for all the right reasons. “Addy has an enormous heart, he does whatever you ask him to do,” said the Buckinghamshire-based rider.
It has been an incredible journey for the pair. Trevor used to be a teacher before turning to showjumping full time, following in the footsteps of older brother Shane, who is based at Hickstead. Adventure De Kannan was an event horse when ridden by his owner Karen Swann, before Breen started showjumping with him. They have gone on to international success and represented Ireland on Nations Cup teams, as well as winning several of Hickstead’s biggest classes.
The 14-year-old gelding has always relished jumping at Hickstead, but his preparations haven’t always gone smoothly. Last year the horse was only just recovering from surgery to remove one of his eyes, because of an ongoing condition.
“The horse just loves adversity,” Breen said. “Last year he lost his eye, then he came back, this year he tweaked his hind suspensory, came back again and then to top it all off I was exercising him in the sand arena here yesterday and he got kicked in the leg. He’s just a Trojan of a horse.”
Phillip Miller was disappointed not to repeat his 2013 win, but was quick to congratulate Trevor on his win. “I thought I was quite quick, so then it was up to Trevor whether he was going to surrender or come after me. I thought he’d surrendered then all of a sudden he set off!” he said.
It was a dramatic renewal of the Derby, with 16 faults being good enough to make the prize money, four riders falling off, 10 being eliminated and three opting to retire.
Three riders shared third place on eight faults – Jade Hooke (RSA) and young British riders Harriet Nuttall and William Whitaker. Trevor Breen also took home some more prize money for finishing sixth on Loughnatousa WB.
In the showing classes, Tattersalls & RoR Thoroughbred Show Horse Championship went to Allister Hood and Jack The Giant, who raced 26 times during his former racing career and won on the flat, over hurdles and over fences.
Earlier on Sunday, the Hickstead Under 25 Masters went to Essex-based Remy Ellis and Warendorf, while Norway’s Victoria Gulliksen finished second on Billy Buttercup.
An estimated 35,000 people attended over the four days of the show. Hickstead’s next international fixture is the Longines Royal International Horse Show (29 July – 3 August), one of only three CHIO5* shows in the world.
The win took Irish victories at Hickstead this weekend to a total of four. Richard Howley and Belinka Vh Overlede Goed won the opening class on Thursday, followed by Michael Duffy’s first place later in the day on Torino in the speed class. On Saturday Daniel Coyle claimed a win with Zuidam in the day’s feature jump-off class.