Irish showjumping brothers Trevor and Shane Breen racked up an impressive grand prix double at the CSIO5*/2* President of the UAE Showjumping Cup in Abu Dhabi (20-23 January), the pair also uniting to help Ireland triumph in the opening leg of the Longines FEI Nations Cup series.
Shane’s five-star grand prix victory came with the 14-year-old stallion Z7 Ipswich (pictured), then Trevor piloted Mandy Hall’s 10-year-old son of Catwalk IV, Toyger, to top spot in Saturday’s two-star equivalent, the fastest of only two double clears.
In Sunday’s Nations Cup, the brothers returned with Trevor swapping on to Highland President. They were joined by former Breen Equestrian riders David Simpson, with his Bolesworth grand prix winner Foudre F, and 20-year-old Jack Ryan with his home-bred BBS McGregor to win on a team score of zero, with David and Jack both producing double clears. Just one fence separated the Irish from the second-placed UAE home team, sealing a truly remarkable hat-trick for the Breens.
“The UAE really kept the pressure on us,” said Irish chef d’equipe Michael Blake. “I wouldn’t have dreamt this morning that it would take six clear rounds to win it!
“We’ve competed here four times and had three second-place finishes, but I felt this competition was ours to lose today and that we were the best team here, although I didn’t see the UAE coming as strong as they did — it just shows how showjumping is developing in this region.”
Co. Kilkenny rider Jack Ryan was competing in just his second senior Nations Cup. He announced last week that he was departing Breen Equestrian, where he has been based for two years, to embark on a new stage in his glittering career.
“He was on the winning team in Vilamoura [Portugal] last year so he’s now made it two wins out of two — that’s impressive!” said Michael. “I was at my first championship with Jack when he was just 11 years old competing in children-on-horses, and it’s extra special that he is riding a home-bred horse here today.”
Jack’s BBS McGregor, by Cardento, has recovered from a serious injury.
“As a yearling he got very sick because we think he was kicked in the head by another horse when out in the field,” said Jack. “He fell apart physically and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him — he was just fading away. But he had a lump on his nose and when it was X-rayed it seems that a tooth went up through the roof of his mouth when he was kicked and he couldn’t eat because of the pain.
“He’s so much better now and it’s great to see him doing so well and enjoying himself in the ring.”
Great Britain only fielded three riders but they managed to finish third. Flying the flag was another Hickstead-based rider, Georgia Tame (Z7 Ascot), who was joined by William Funnell (Equine America Billy Diamo) and pathfinder Donald Whitaker (Di Caprio) who, jumping in his first five-star Nations Cup, produced an exceptional double clear over Alan Wade’s track to claim a share of the €50,000 for the five partnerships who maintained a zero score.
“I was really proud of the three riders today, they dug deep, showing their determination and qualities for the future,” said British chef d’equipe Di Lampard.
UAE and fifth-placed Saudi Arabia have now qualified for the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in October.
“I think our best score here before was 17 faults so today’s result was really great!” said UAE team rider Abdullah Mohammed Al Marri. “We are aiming two teams for events this year – one for the Asian Games and one for the Longines Final and of course today’s competition is also a qualifier for the World Championships so it has been a great experience for all of us!”
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