In the run-up to the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting, Trevor Breen will be keeping H&H readers up to date about his Derby horse, Adventure De Kannan

I’ve always said that Adventure De Kannan (Addy) has a Derby in him. Our first attempt at the Derby was in 2010. He comes from an eventing background and he’d won the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby the previous year, so I knew he wouldn’t have a problem with the different fences. Addy is scopey, careful, and he has a great will to win — and those are all important attributes for a Derby horse.

That first attempt was just after he’d jumped on the Nations Cup teams in Spruce Meadows and Lisbon, and we pretty much went straight from Lisbon to Hickstead. He finished just out of the prizemoney on 12 faults in the Derby, having had the upright at the bottom of the bank, the water, and the open ditch at 13. But I thought if he could do that having had no proper preparation, he could definitely jump a clear round.

Clearing the Devil's Dyke in 2010

Clearing the Devil’s Dyke in 2010

We were 7th the following year, when he was clear except for the first and last parts of the Devil’s Dyke, which was frustrating as he’d jumped it the year before. Then in 2012 he came equal 3rd with 4 faults at the water. That was totally my own fault, as I didn’t get the best approach, so I was really annoyed at myself.

Last year I’d been so confident, I really believed he’d win. He’d been 2nd in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial and he felt as good as he ever had. He was clear all the way to fence 13, when he just touched the open ditch — one of the fences he’d had down in his very first attempt.

My Mum had passed away a week before the Derby, so it would have meant a lot to me to win. I was gutted, it was definitely the worst 2nd place I’ve had in my life.

I’m feeling really positive again for this year. He’s 14 now, so ideally he needs to win it this year or next. If ever a horse deserves to win a class it’s him. He gives you everything, but you need a bit of luck to win the Derby.

How our partnership began

I first met Addy 7 years ago. His owner, Karen Swann, moved to Ireland to be with her fiancé, Keith Barry, and they’ve ended up living next door to my parents’ yard. We were asked to take Karen’s horse on DIY livery, and from there I started giving her lessons. I liked him straight away — he always had a big jump — but it wasn’t until I was asked to ride him in a 6 bar class that I realised just how good he was. It was the first time I’d sat on him and he won.

Karen was competing in 1.20m classes with him, then I took over the ride while she was recovering from an accident. Then Karen was pregnant with her first child, Bella, and I haven’t given Addy back since! It’s been great though, because I now have 4 of her horses to compete.

Addy had a long-term eye condition, and shortly before last year’s Derby we made the decision to have his eye removed. I think it must have been bothering him, but he’d never let on — which is testament to how good his temperament is.

Not long after having the eye removed, he won the area trial and the stairway at the South of England. He’s gone from strength to strength since and these days he’s like a different character — he’s much cheekier!

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