‘He’s a bit sharp, we lunged him first’: hot home-bred takes Bolesworth CSI3* grand prix for Shane Breen

  • Shane Breen rose to the challenge of a testing Al Shira’aa 1.55m CSI3* grand prix with assurance, partnering the hot home-bred grey Scarteen to the fastest of just three double clears.

    Course-designer Javier Trenor Paz had created a real challenge for the 48 starters on the closing day of Bolesworth’s two-week International Summer Festival. Poles dropped everywhere on his first round track, but a combination across the centre became such a bogey that the crowd applauded every time a rider negotiated it clear.

    The time allowed was exacting, pushing several skilled combinations to make four-fault errors, including last week’s CSI 2* grand prix victors William Whitaker and Chacco’s Lando.

    “When I walked the course I thought it suited my guy but I had to be careful not to have a time-fault. In Thursday’s rankings class I had a time-fault, so I made a plan and stuck to it,” said Shane, who has been on form throughout the two weeks, coming second to William last week riding Cato’s Boy.

    “I thought Scarteen jumped really well. He’s quite sharp but has a lot of scope and is really careful. You have to sit as quietly as you can and let him get on with the job.”

    Under this grand prix format, a quarter of the field go through to the jump-off. Of the 13 combinations who qualified, eight carried through four faults.

    Shane was one of only four clears — Tim Gredley and Olympic hopeful Imperial HBF also remained faultless, as did James Davenport (One To Watch) and Thursday’s Longines ranking class winners Seamus Hughes Kennedy with his reigning young rider European champion ESI Rocky.

    One other rider, the USA’s Maggie Hill (Elmegaardens Dakota), also left the poles standing, but added three for time.

    Riders face tactical dilemma

    The jump-off ran in reverse order of merit, and several of the first-round four-faulters went on to jump fast clears.

    Those with clean sheets faced the tactical dilemma of whether to aim for clear and remain in decent prize money or push on against the clock, in case they lowered a pole.

    Tim was the first of the clears to jump off and opted for a safe but forward round on this very promising nine-year-old, before his lead was swiftly overturned by Shane, who set a pace 3sec slower than the fastest round so far (Ellen Whitaker and Korlenski, who totalled eight faults) but well-judged enough to set an impressive standard.

    James Davenport had shaken his head when asked if he could match Shane’s performance as he entered the ring, but he put in a brilliant bid on the home-bred mare One To Watch, finishing clear just 0.12sec behind Shane to slot into second place.

    All eyes were on 21-year-old Seamus, who had earned his slot as last to jump with the fastest first round. He was quick everywhere with the nine-year-old Stakkato Gold x Londonderry gelding, stopping the clock an incredible 3.37sec faster than Shane but lowering the first part of the double to finish in fourth.

    ‘It’s a good job the grand prix wasn’t yesterday’

    “Scarteen is a home-bred so it is nice to take the win on him,” said Shane, who had an on-form afternoon, having taken first and second place in his previous two classes as a prelude to the main event.

    “He’s actually a very pally horse but he has to know you and when he knows you and trusts you, he gives you 100%.

    “He’s a bit sharp — I rode him yesterday and he was off his head, so it’s a good job the grand prix wasn’t yesterday!” he added.

    Shane sold a part-share in the 11-year-old to Marianne Schindele as a five-year-old but took the ride back last year after Peder Fredricson saw him at a show and reminded him what a good horse he owned.

    Their wins on British soil since have included speed horse of the year at Horse of the Year Show and the Sussex Cup at Hickstead’s September meeting but they have also been jumping successfully internationally at five-star level.

    “We have a routine with him now and lunge him first,” said Shane, who claimed €18,744 (£15,823) for his win. “He’s got incredible energy, you just have to keep him as calm as possible.”

    ‘It’s a hard decision’

    James was “chuffed to bits” with his second place, on a horse who is also a home-bred.

    “The only one I saw go was Shane before me and he was so fast, so smooth,” he said.

    “It’s a hard decision to know what to do [when you’ve jumped one of just a handful of first-round clears]. It’s happened so many times that I’ve thought ‘I’ll do a good clear and get a good placing’ and then nicked a rail somewhere and ended up 12th. This time I thought ‘sod it, I’ll go as fast as I can!’

    “To do that on a home-bred feels is amazing. Her half-owner Martin Dawes was here to watch today and it’s the only show he’s been to in a year, so it’s been a dream for him to see a home-bred horse do that today.

    “I rode her mother, who won the silver league, and she’s identical to her, really sharp and when she’s too sharp, she’s not so good, but when you are able to put your leg on, the jump comes good. The other day I worked her in the morning and she came out this afternoon exactly where I wanted her.”

    Britain’s show jumping performance manager Di Lampard was at the show to observe the hopefuls for Paris Olympics in action. Tim Gredley finished top of the nominated combinations, in third, while Robert Whitaker (Vermento) finished fifth after following up on a four-fault first round with a fast jump-off clear.

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