Breen starts Derby campaign with a win

Shane Breen was victorious in today's feature class, the Hickstead Derby Tankard 

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Shane Breen got the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting off to an excellent start, claiming the Hickstead Derby Tankard on the opening day of the show.

The Hickstead-based Irishman is no stranger to success at the All England Jumping Course, though there is one class that has so far eluded him – the Al Shira’aa Derby. Having finished third in the class in 2019, he is determined to finally claim the top spot and he has two excellent chances in Golden Hawk and Can Ya Makan.

His win in the Tankard was on board Vistogrand, who was making his debut in the Longines International Arena. While Shane is known for being extremely cool-headed, his nine-year-old stallion takes being laid back to another level. “He’s a lovely character, and a really smart individual. He has his routine: he has breakfast at 7am, and then the stables are all skipped out before the lads go for breakfast at 8.30am. When the lads come back out at 9am, he’s asleep – and I mean really asleep. He’ll sleep until quarter to ten and then he’ll get up and work, and then after lunch he’s worked again and then he sleeps again. He’s like that at shows, too, and it doesn’t matter what’s going on – there could be a carnival behind him, and he’ll be fast asleep. But then, when he comes out into the ring, he's like a bull in a china shop!”

Six riders jumped clear round the 1.50m track, with Robert Whitaker (Vermento) producing the only other double clear. But Shane produced a perfectly-judged jump-off round to shave just 0.06sec off Robert’s time to take the win.

Breen intends to compete Vistogrand in Friday and Saturday’s international classes, and is hoping he might get selected to represent Ireland at next month’s Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup fixture at Hickstead.

Another Hickstead regular with his sights firmly set on the Al Shira’aa Derby is Guy Williams, who won the Hickstead showcase back in 2010. He proved himself to be on winning form when claiming the first international show of the day, the Stoner Jewellers Vase.

Guy and his hugely experienced 17-year-old Rouge de Ravel delivered a superb round late in the 1.45m Stoner Jewellers’ Vase to cross the finish in 70.57 seconds, bettering runner-up Harriet Biddick and Night Of Glory OL’s time of 73.68sec.

“He feels really good – I brought him for a bit of fun,” he says. “It’s nice to jump him in a grass ring, because we’re always on surfaces, and while he’s got a bit of age, he really does enjoy it. He really loves his jumping.”

Today’s other winners included Holly Smith, who took the Astore & Sons 1.35m Open Championship with Billy Sarafina; while Ireland's Michael Duffy won the Hickstead Annual Grade C Championship with the diminutive 15hh Luidams Flame.

The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting continues until Sunday 26 June, with tickets available at the gate and online from Hickstead.co.uk. The action is streamed live throughout on Hickstead.TV and ClipMyHorse.TV

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