Shane Breen bought Cuick Star Kervec as a yearling, nine years ago, and always thought he was going to be something special.
To conclude a superb week for the Irish at Horse of the Year show (HOYS) Shane and the fiery Quick Star stallion gave a masterclass in speed, power and control to come home just under a fifth of a second faster than John Whitaker on Equine America Unick Du Francport.
The first-round track had been tough, as expected in a grand prix, and only seven of the 29 starters went clear. But Breen Equestrian and Quirke Sport Horses’ 10-year-old made nothing of it, in what was only his third grand prix.
“His scope is amazing – I’ve never ridden anything with this much scope,” said Shane. “In my opinion, this is a very special horse.”
John had thrown down the gauntlet with a super-fast time, finishing by taking a stride out to the last. Shane said John had told him he would go on five strides from the first to second fences, but in the end went on six.
“I watched him and my brother Trevor said ‘You’ve got to do five’,” Shane said. “And the beauty of this horse is that he’s got an amazing stride.”
It was a first win in this class for Shane, who was delighted to win in front of the “fantastic crowd”.
“I bought this horse as a yearling and always thought he was going to be a superstar,” he said.
“To win his third grand prix is a great achievement, and especially here; it’s a great occasion. I think this could be the first step of many big steps.”
John, who was second to go on his and his wife Claire’s 14-year-old in the jump-off – but first of all the clears as eight went through to the jump-off and Donald Whitaker and Arlo De Blondel had carried their four first-round faults through with them – agreed that it was the line from fences one to two that won the class, though his speed and precision in turns, and mighty gallop to the last oxer, had made it as close as it was.
“I wanted to be quick, going first, but also wanted to be clear,” he said. “He jumped really good; both rounds felt great.”
Jack Whitaker, who finished third, on his 21st birthday, riding Equine America Valmy De La Lande, said he was “very happy” with his father Michael’s 13-year-old stallion. As last to go, and in a silence in which the proverbial pin would have clattered, he jumped a superb clear less than a second behind his uncle John.
Michael joked: “He could have gone a second and a half quicker! But it was a good round. He’s a stallion with a mind of his own, and you can only do what he wants to do. Jack did a good job there, they jumped really well.”
And Michael, who finished fourth in the class himself in 2019, added: “So he beat me!”
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