Shane Breen cruised to victory in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial at his local Hickstead show for the second consecutive year – albeit with a different horse.
Twelve months ago, British-based Irishman Shane claimed the win on Can Y Makan but this year it was Golden Hawk that swept to victory in easy style.
Kelvin Bywater’s track took its toll today, with Shane and Graham Gillespie delivering the only clear rounds of 43 starters. When Graham opted not to come back to jump off against the clock, Shane merely had to complete the second round to take the win.
“Golden Hawk has loads of experience,” said Shane, who has competed the Vigo D’Arsouilles 14-year-old stallion in international grands prix and Nations Cup. “This is well within his capabilities, and he really likes this arena. For Graham to give me a free pass to the winners’ enclosure was quite nice of him!”
The Bunn Leisure Derby Trial acts as a qualifier for Sunday’s Al Shira’aa Derby, one of the most famous classes in British showjumping, and both riders have got their sights firmly on this major prize.
“My horse has just done a string of shows, so the aim was just to do a bit of training today and set up nicely for the Al Shira’aa Derby, which I think we’ve done today,” said Graham. “It was hard to give it to Shane, though!”
Shane, who came third in the Derby last year and was runner-up in the Hamburg Derby in May with Can Ya Makan, is among the favourites for this year’s class.
“I think I have two great chances in Can Ya Makan and Golden Hawk, and I’m looking forward to it. Golden Hawk has never done a Derby, but he has all the ability. I think if I get it right, both of them could have a clear round. Of all the years I’ve done this class, this is definitely the biggest chance I’ve ever had, with these two horses. If I don’t win it this year or next year, I might have to give them to my brother!” Shane said of younger sibling Trevor, who won the Hickstead Derby in 2014 and 2015.
Robert Whitaker made just one mistake for third on Major Delacour while Holly Smith with Hearts Destiny and Shane aboard Can Ya Makan also came home on four faults to take fourth and fifth.
Another former Derby winner was back in winning form this afternoon, with 2010 champion Guy Williams taking the 46-strong Bunn Leisure Derby two-phase with Rouge De Ravel.
Guy is a formidable force against the clock, and there was no catching him today – even though he had the disadvantage of being the first competitor to go, he set a blisteringly quick time which proved unbeatable.
Guy had been aiming the 14-year-old stallion Rouge De Revel for tomorrow’s CMH.TV Master’s Trophy but decided to also compete in today's class - a decision that paid off.
“Rouge wins a lot of Grands Prix, and I’d brought him for the class tomorrow - but he was in his stable bucking and he’s a bit feisty, so I thought I would give him a little spin and let him enjoy himself,” said Guy. “I like to win at Hickstead, though, whatever class! I come here with my family, and I’m very close to the Bunns, so I like to go in the main ring and win what I can."
Hickstead used to be his local big show when he lived in Canterbury but Guy has been based in France for the past five years – however, he is planning a move back to Great Britain.
The reigning Science Supplements Speed Derby champion Matthew Sampson came closest to Guy’s time, crossing the finish 0.27 sec in arrears on the L’Arc De Triomphe 10-year-old Valse De Pepinvast. Guy’s protegee Lily Freeman-Attwood, 17, finished in third on Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z with John Crippen’s The Flying Fox III in fourth and Jackson Reed-Stephenson aboard Casparow in fifth.
Already a winner in the speed Derby qualifier with his feisty mare Culmore Prospect, Joss Williams collected another rug, this time claiming the Clean Sheet 1.25m championship in the main arena with Jan Coomer’s Zandokan Z.
It was all about the clock as eight provided double clears but Joss forged ahead on the 17-year-old to clinch the top spot by 0.70 sec. Helen Rees brought Bart VI into second with Alfie Bradstock’s Grand Cru in third. Emily Llewellyn claimed fourth on Denver V, Amy Carnet was fifth with Banderas and Antoni Platt jumped G Star Blue into sixth.
The six-year-old title was split between Britain and Ireland as Matt Sampson’s consistent Ivory (Don VHP Z/Cartogran) equalled the time of Mikey Pender and MHS New York (Quidam Junior/Cavalier Royale) in a battle over a 1.30m single-phase track.
Seven double clears were realised with Pippa Goddard taking third 0.99 sec off the pace on the scopey stallion Nero Van De Kwade Heyde (Echo Van Spieveld/Lux Z). Australia’s Jake Hunter finished fourth on Liscarrow Neptune, Jake Saywell guided Irmette Balia into fifth, Ben Walker was sixth on Creevy Pacino Cruise and Nicole Lockhead Anderson netted seventh aboard Azolette.
Following a 10 year hiatus, Jonathan Egmore returned to Hickstead to claim the five-year-old title and generous £1,000 first prize with Passilano over a 1.20m single-phase track.
Only two double clears were found, Jonathan and the Cassilano/Lorentin I gelding winning with 2.06 sec to spare.
“It’s nice – unexpected, but nice!” says Egmore, who runs a horse feed and bedding business. His chance to return to the sport came a couple of years ago, when his girlfriend’s family put together a syndicate to purchase three unbroken three-year-olds.
“We’ve got four horses now, so we’re creeping back in. It was all just circumstances – it all just fizzled out, and things ground to a halt. I kind of dropped out of the sport and didn’t bother; I didn’t think I’d come back.”
His winning ride Passilano has an unusual background for a showjumper.
“He came from a dressage stud,” explains Jonathan. “They’d bought a mare, and then discovered that she was pregnant. They wanted to keep the mare to breed from, but he was never really in their plans. We happened to know the girl who produced the stud’s horses, so she asked if I’d have a look at him and see if he had any jump in him. And that was it, really – it’s been onward and upwards ever since. He’s been very good, and he’ll definitely have the scope to go on.”
Only two double clears were produced with second going to Jake Saywell’s Etoulon VDL/Sheraton stallion Ebanking. Several finished on four faults with George Whitaker on Janikie HBC in third, Lily Freeman-Attwood’s Indy Z was fourth with Luke Hill (Billy Heythrop) and Scott Dollemore (Billy Scarlett) in fifth and sixth.
Text © Jumping Around/Photos courtesy All England Jumping Course, Hickstead