WELL the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby is over for another year and what an amazing event this year’s competition was.
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.
Trevor’s horse Adventure De Kannan has a superb record at Hickstead, winning the Speed Derby in 2009 and the Amlin Plus 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 Trevor finished in runner-up spot in the Derby when ‘Addy’, who only has 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 Phillip had to settle for second place.
There have only been 54 clear rounds in the 54 year history of the Derby, and this year there were none – with Phillip and Trevor both knocking a fence down and having to jump-off for the title.
First to go in the jump-off, Phillip and last year’s winning horse Caritiar Z picked up another four faults at the Devil’s Dyke. So Trevor 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 Phillip’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 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’s 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 used to be an event horse when ridden by his owner Karen Swann, before Trevor began showjumping 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,” said Trevor. “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 Equestrian.com 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.
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.