Trevor Breen & Adventure de Kannan. Ph. via Hickstead
The crowd-favorite “one-eyed wonder horse,” Adventure De Kannan, was officially retired this past weekend in a special ceremony before the Al Shira’aa Hickstead CSI4* Derby on June 25th.
For longtime rider Trevor Breen of Ireland, the retirement of Adventure De Kannan (Kannan x Ladalco), known as “Addy” around the yard, is bittersweet. The 17-year-old bay Belgian Warmblood gelding is no stranger to galloping around the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead with Breen.
The pair made their international debut at Hickstead in 2009 by winning the British Speed Derby. Fast forward seven years and the duo has etched their names into Hickstead’s history by winning nearly every major class—the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby, the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the All England Grand Prix the Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix, and, in 2014, the famed Hickstead Derby.
Breen first met Addy ten years ago, when owner, Karen Swann, moved to Ireland and ended up on Trevor’s yard doing a “do-it-yourself” livery. Swann and Addy began to take lessons with Breen and he immediately saw something special in the gelding. Originally an eventing mount with Swann, Addy evented up to the 2* level and competed in showjumping up to the 1.20m level. Once pregnant, Swann gave Breen the ride and the rest is history. With his big jump, Breen and Addy entered and won their first 6-bar competition, and never looked back.
“I probably owe a lot of my career to Addy,” Breen said. “He was my best horse for basically, the majority of my professional career. He won classes for me week in, week out, year in, year out. He was the horse I could pull out and go to any show in the world.”
After relocating to Buckinghamshire, England with his wife, Caroline, in 2011, Breen made it his goal to win one of the world’s hardest and most prestigious classes—the Hickstead Derby. Since 1961, the 1,195-meter course has challenged horse-and-rider combinations from around the world. From the descent of the infamous Hickstead Derby Bank to the Devil’s Dyke, each obstacle on the course poses a difficult challenge.
Addy’s return to the sport after a potential career-ending eye condition in 2013, where his right eye was surgically removed, makes his wins at Hickstead even more impressive. Although Swann and Breen were unsure if Addy would ever return to jumping at the top level, a few months post-surgery, Breen and Addy galloped through the in-gate of the International Arena at Hickstead. That year, Breen came one step closer to achieving his life-long ambition of winning the Derby and finished second to Phillip Miller. Nearly tasting victory, the small margin only fueled Breen’s fire for the next year’s competition.
Twelve months later, it was Breen and Miller toe-to-toe again in the final round of the 2014 Hickstead Derby. With them both sitting on four faults, it all came down to a jump-off against the clock that put Breen and Addy on top, narrowly beating the reigning champion by two-hundredths of a second—the closest jump-off margin in Derby history.
“He always gave me 110% percent and tried his heart out, he is a gem of a horse in every possible way,” Breen said of his partner. “Every type of class that he’s won requires a different skill set, and to won the classes that he’s won is simply amazing.”
After a storybook career, the one-eyed wonder horse will enjoy an active retirement back at home with Swann in Tipperary, Ireland. Although Addy will be missed at Hickstead, his impressive performances will always be one for the record books.