‘I’d have bitten your arm off for fourth!’ Ex-eventer jumps double clear in his first CSI5* grand prix at Hickstead

  • As always, a world-class field of established horses and riders came forward for Sunday’s (31 July) historic feature class, the Longines King George V Gold Cup at the Royal International Horse Show, won by Belgian rider Gilles Thomas.

    But finishing just off the podium in a very creditable fourth with an eye-catching double clear was an ex-event horse competing in his first ever five-star grand prix.

    Trevor Breen and the 11-year-old KWPN gelding Gonzalo only teamed up a few weeks ago, but were one of the undisputed stars of Hickstead on Sunday.

    “I’m delighted — he jumped unbelievably,” said Trevor, who was competing at only his fourth show with Gonzalo, a son of Viceroy T.

    “I’m just getting to know him but he was fourth on the first day in the big class [at the Royal International] and the plan was to do the grand prix, so to perform like that was fantastic.

    “He’s such a lovely horse, he’s beautiful to ride and he has a huge heart and fights for you, so he makes my life a bit easier.”

    Trevor and Gonzalo were drawn fifth in the eight-way jump-off to decide top honours for the King’s Cup and there had been no clear rounds when the Irish rider entered the ring, leaving him with a tactical conundrum.

    “I was probably going to go a bit faster than I did, but I thought if I could just get a clear,” said Trevor. “I wanted to put the guys after me under pressure — the likes of Harry Charles, Gilles Thomas and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli are all super fast riders. I tried to put them under pressure and hoped they’d make mistakes but none of them did, unfortunately! So I ended up fourth.

    “But you have to make a calculated guess in jump-offs and if you’d told me that this morning that I’d finish fourth I’d have bitten your arm off, so it’s all good.”

    Gonzalo had been ridden in a few lower level international showjumping classes by British rider Chloe Winchester over the past six months before Trevor took over last month. But before that, Gonzalo had evented up to CCI4* level with British rider Lauren McLusky, who took over from Michelle Kenny and Olympic rider Austin O’Connor of Ireland.

    “A friend of mine, Sean Cubitt, owns him, through Home Farm Equestrian, and he called me up one day and said I’m going to send that horse [Gonzalo] to you,” explained Trevor. “He literally arrived the next day.

    “My first show was Bolesworth – that didn’t go so good actually – then I did a national show and he won the 1.40m there, then we went to Keysoe where he was third on the second day and fourth in the grand prix. He then came here to Hickstead and finished fourth on the first day and fourth in the grand prix. So it’s been a pretty steep learning curve!

    “He’s a horse that gives you confidence in him though. He gives you belief. I planned this grand prix for him because he’s an ex-eventer; with all the ditches and things like that in there, you need to be brave and in that first round he didn’t look at anything, he was super. So my plan worked out and I’m delighted for him and everyone connected with him.”

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