Image (c) Craig Payne Photography
Irishman Trevor Breen won the Equestrian.com Derby in both 2014 and 2015, and this weekend he plans to bring both his winning rides back to the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, to have a third crack at the title.
The Derby is Hickstead’s most iconic competition, forming the finale to the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting (23-26 June). First held in 1961, and every year since, there have been just 57 clear rounds in the history of the class. With fences including the Devil’s Dyke, the double of ditches, one of the widest water jumps in the world and the famous 10ft 6in descent of the Derby Bank, the course has barely changed since its inception and remains as challenging today as it always has been.
Trevor Breen had won many of Hickstead’s most prestigious titles, but the Derby had kept eluding him. He finished third in 2012 with Adventure De Kannan, with the pair finishing second in 2013 – a result the Buckinghamshire-based rider described as ‘the worst second place I’ve ever had’. His longed-for win finally came in 2014, when both Trevor and the reigning champion Phillip Miller completed the course with just four faults apiece, meaning both had to jump-off for the title. In the jump off, both riders knocked down a fence, but Trevor was just 0.2sec quicker, giving him the prized Boomerang Trophy at last. It was the closest Derby jump-off of all time.
“It was getting frustrating, having come so close to winning the Derby the previous two years. I knew Addy was good enough, and he’s won so much for me in his career, especially at Hickstead. To finally win, it was just ecstasy,” says Trevor.
Last year, it was his other ride Loughnatousa WB who claimed the Equestrian.com Derby title. It was the second time for both Trevor and the horse, who had already won the class in 2012 under former rider Paul Beecher. WB jumped the only clear round to claim the title, while Adventure De Kannan produced another good round to finish equal seventh with eight faults. “I honestly thought I had a realistic chance of being in the jump-off against myself last year,” Trevor says.
“It’s all about getting them there fit, healthy and sound to give them the best chance of winning.”
If all goes well, Trevor plans to bring both horses back with the hope of winning the class for a third year in a row. Adventure De Kannan is now 16 years old, while WB is 17. Both are being targeted for Hickstead’s most famous class, and won’t do many other competitions in the run up to this year’s Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting. “They don’t need experience, they just need to be fit and match sharp,” he says. “It’s all about getting them there fit, healthy and sound to give them the best chance of winning. They’re both a year older and they’re both doing less in their careers, so whether that turns out to be a good or bad thing or if they’ll be fit, we don’t know.”
Adventure De Kannan spent the winter back in Ireland with his owner Karen Swann, doing some local level competitions, before returning to Trevor’s yard in March. “Karen and I made the decision to give him a long break. If it works, great, and if it doesn’t, he doesn’t owe us anything,” Trevor adds. “Addy will always give 100 percent on the day, and if things go our way there’s no reason why he won’t be in the line-up.”
This will be Trevor’s third ride on Patricia Brown’s Loughnatousa WB in the Derby. Their partnership has really developed over the past few years, with Area Trial and International Stairway wins to their name in addition to last year’s Hickstead success. From the minute he completed his lap of honour in last year’s Equestrian.com Derby, this year’s class has been his main aim.
The first step of Trevor’s triple Derby bid begins on Friday 24 June in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, in which riders must qualify for Sunday afternoon’s Equestrian.com Derby. It just remains to be seen if Trevor can join the ranks of Olympians Nick Skelton, Michael Whitaker and Peter Charles, who all won the Hickstead Derby three times in a row.
Tickets are on sale now at www.hickstead.co.uk
-Source: Hickstead Derby Press